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The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
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The Maltese Falcon (original 1930; edition 2011)

by Dashiell Hammett

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,550151778 (3.91)455
Member:stgemma
Title:The Maltese Falcon
Authors:Dashiell Hammett
Info:Thinking Ink Media (2011), Paperback, 200 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:books I own, read for school, crime, detective, mystery

Work details

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett (1930)

  1. 70
    The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler (InvisiblerMan)
  2. 41
    The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (Cecilturtle)
  3. 30
    Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler (caflores)
  4. 10
    Bad Things Happen by Harry Dolan (BookGirlVL)
    BookGirlVL: A recent addition to the hardboiled US scene. The protagonist befriends the publisher of a mystery magazine called Grey Streets, which prints hardboiled short stories.
  5. 11
    The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (PghDragonMan)
    PghDragonMan: The two detectives have a key trait in common: dogged pursuit of the truth and the truth has many twists along the way.
  6. 00
    Maltese Falcon by Richard J. Anobile (bks1953)
  7. 11
    Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem (InvisiblerMan)
  8. 12
    Britten and Brülightly by Hannah Berry (lucien)
    lucien: A great modern take on the noir genre in comic form. Berry is successful at both weaving a solid noir tale and having some good fun with genre conventions.
  9. 12
    The Valley of Fear by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (benmartin79)
  10. 02
    Private Midnight by Kris Saknussemm (PghDragonMan)
    PghDragonMan: Dark detective fiction, both radical for their times.
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English (143)  Spanish (4)  Dutch (1)  Finnish (1)  French (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (151)
Showing 1-5 of 143 (next | show all)
A second read, this time for a book group. More fun than I remembered, and with that snappy pulp style that suited Humphrey Bogart so well. It seemed as though the book could have been created with the movie stars in mind - Sydney Greenstreet as Gutman, Peter Lorre as Joel Cairo, Elisha Cook Jr. as "the gunsel." A fairly silly plot by today's standards, but read it for the dialogue and the creation of the "noir" stereotypes we all have come to love through Hollywood's portrayals - the sad but outwardly tough private eye, the thick cops, the duplicitous, seductive dame, the true-blue Gal Friday and on and on. Non-PC in its depiction of homosexuals and women, so buyer beware!
  kishields | Nov 23, 2014 |
While I’m familiar with film noir, this is, I think, the first crime story I’ve read that can be called noir. Of course this title is much better known as the film, but I can see how Dashiell Hammett won such praise for his writing. He allows the personality of his protagonist, Sam Spade, to emerge through what he says and does, rarely if ever giving his thoughts, restricting himself to describing Sade’s facial expressions which are often a disguise for what’s really going on his mind. I think this is effective characterisation even if Spade is not someone to like.

What else works well is the way Hammett keeps pushing the plot forwards as you’d want in this type of fiction – the reader has to keep up and this makes it more interesting. As you’d expect there are attitudes that today are considered if not unfortunate, then at least politically incorrect, such as using Cairo’s homosexuality to denigrate him, but this could be attributed to the way Hammett leads the reader to descry aspects of Spade’s character, including the way he was having an affair, loveless on his behalf, with his partner’s wife.

For a novel so rooted in its time and popular culture, this book has stood the test of time well even though I wouldn’t want to read many like it. ( )
1 vote evening | Oct 31, 2014 |
Very good on re-read. Clear lines, succinct dialogue. Knight in rusty armor does the right thing in spite of himself. ( )
  AliceAnna | Oct 22, 2014 |
I really enjoyed reading Dashiell Hammett's "The Maltese Falcon." I had already seen the movie so the plot wasn't exactly a surprise-- but the overall tone and pacing of the book that it is fun to read.

Detective Sam Spade is in his office when the pretty Miss Wonderly comes marching in with a problem that needs solving. Spade's partner ends up dead and he becomes mixed up with criminals on the hunt for the mysterious falcon.

This is the novel that was responsible for launching the era of the hard-boiled detective, whose eye for detail helps him solve crimes and have his way with the ladies. I can see why others took the idea and ran with it -- this novel is really great. ( )
1 vote amerynth | Oct 19, 2014 |
Hardboiled San Francisco detective Sam Spade is approached by a mysterious female who asks him to find her sister, which instead turns into the hunt for a valuable statue. I saw the 1941 movie in college as an illustration of noir film and an example of MacGuffin usage and while I am a fan of the film (let's be honest, Bogart could do magic), the book falls a short for me, mainly because I don't like Spade and I think that's a prerequisite if you want to "get" the humor. Perhaps I've read too much modern noir to go along with the silly dames and the macho males. As a sample of its genre it's spot on and I can appreciate it for that, but as an enjoyable read it's not a major hit, unfortunately. ( )
  -Eva- | Aug 1, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 143 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dashiell Hammettprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Angell, OlavTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
Samuel Spade's jaw was long and bony, his chin a jutting v under the more flexible v of his mouth.
Quotations
The boy spoke two words, the first a short guttural verb, the second 'you'.
"People lose teeth talking like that." Spade's voice was still amiable though his face had become wooden. "If you want to hang around you'll be polite."
The boy repeated his two words.
Spade by means of his grip on the Levantine's lapels turned him slowly and pushed him back until he was standing close in front of the chair he had lately occupied. A puzzled look replaced the look of pain in the lead-colored face. Then Spade smiled. The smile was gentle, even dreamy. His right shoulder raised a few inches. His bent right arm was driven up by the shoulder's lift. Fist, wrist, forearm, crooked elbow, and upper arm seemed all one rigid piece, with only the limber shoulder giving them motion. The fist struck Cairo's face...
"I don't know where that damned bird is. You don't. She does. How in hell are we going to get it if I don't play along with her?"
Cairo hesitated, said dubiously: "You have always, I must say, a smooth explanation ready."
Spade scowled. "What do you want me to do? Learn to stutter?"
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Haiku summary
Yes, I'm guilty, but
I'll get free with female wiles.
Whoops, need a Plan B.

(Carnophile)

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679722645, Paperback)

Sam Spade, Dashiell Hammett's archetypally tough San Francisco detective, is more noir than L.A. Confidential and more vulnerable than Raymond Chandler's Marlowe. In The Maltese Falcon, the best known of Hammett's Sam Spade novels (including The Dain Curse and The Glass Key), Spade is tough enough to bluff the toughest thugs and hold off the police, risking his reputation when a beautiful woman begs for his help, while knowing that betrayal may deal him a new hand in the next moment.

Spade's partner is murdered on a stakeout; the cops blame him for the killing; a beautiful redhead with a heartbreaking story appears and disappears; grotesque villains demand a payoff he can't provide; and everyone wants a fabulously valuable gold statuette of a falcon, created as tribute for the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV. Who has it? And what will it take to get it back? Spade's solution is as complicated as the motives of the seekers assembled in his hotel room, but the truth can be a cold comfort indeed.

Spade is bigger (and blonder) in the book than in the movie, and his Mephistophelean countenance is by turns seductive and volcanic. Sam knows how to fight, whom to call, how to rifle drawers and secrets without leaving a trace, and just the right way to call a woman "Angel" and convince her that she is. He is the quintessence of intelligent cool, with a wise guy's perfect pitch. If you only know the movie, read the book. If you're riveted by Chinatown or wonder where Robert B. Parker's Spenser gets his comebacks, read the master. --Barbara Schlieper

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:59:04 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A murder involves Sam Spade in a dangerous search for a valuable statue.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 21 descriptions

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