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The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett
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The Thin Man (edition 1972)

by Dashiell Hammett

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2,655682,250 (3.87)180
Member:lamour
Title:The Thin Man
Authors:Dashiell Hammett
Info:Vintage (1972), Paperback
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:Detective Novel

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The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett

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English (66)  Spanish (2)  All languages (68)
Showing 1-5 of 66 (next | show all)
Retired private eye Nick Charles must take a break from boozing to solve the mystery of a murdered mistress.

Curiously flat. Charles is a functional alcoholic. His wife, Nora, depicted as the smartest woman in the book, is nothing more than a set piece who fetches Charles drinks and asks him questions so he can 'splain the unfolding mystery. The other women are all types, and not very flatteringly depicted. It didn't help that the ebook version is riddled with errors. Still, Raymond Chandler is light years ahead of Hammett when it comes to writing talent and thus more fun to read. The movie version of The Thin Man is certainly a lot more entertaining than the book. I credit a good screenplay and the chemistry between William Powell and Myrna Loy.

Read in 2014. ( )
  sturlington | Dec 16, 2014 |
Picked this up as a cheapy got-through-my-first-year-of-uni-in-20-years/pre-Christmas present for myself based on having greatly enjoyed a short story by Hammett that I read some years ago. I must confess that at first this seemed wooden and unappealing. I'm not sure what happened, whether it was me getting into the flow of things or the writing getting better (I suspect the former), but by the end I was amused, entertained and immensely more satisfied than I had expected to be. I particularly LOVED Nick Charles, ex-gum shoe and wanting to stay ex- (but those around him have other ideas) disparaging the making of lists of opportunity/motive etc. HURRAH! I do love Dorothy L Sayers and Ngaio Marsh, but the diagrams and lists bore me witless. Also highly enjoyed the banter between Nick & his most excellent wife, and the way everything isn't (sort of) tied up in a neat little bow at the end. Great stuff. ( )
  Vivl | Dec 10, 2014 |
Former detective Nick Charles and his wife Nora travel to New York City for the Christmas/New Year holidays. While there, Nick runs in to the daughter of an old client, and soon after learns that the client's former lover has been murdered. Despite his protestations of early retirement, Nick finds himself drawn into the family and the case.

Dashiell Hammett is considered a master of the hard-boiled detective fiction novel, and I certainly found that to be the case with this novel. The Thin Man immediately drew me, fascinating me with its characters and making a quick read with its sharp and witty language. Hammett doesn't linger long on descriptions yet I always had perfect pictures in my head of what was going on, where it was happening, and exactly who it was happening with or to. Hammett deftly crafts a dysfunctional family in the Wynant/Jorgensen household, a seedy cast of degenerates in the mobsters and informants Nick encounters, a beleaguered police force, and more, all of who felt well-rounded and believable. And of course, Hammett creates here the famous Nick and Nora couple, who are absolutely delightful in their interactions together.

The story and particularly its characters were so compelling that I found I wasn't really trying to solve the case like I usually do with mystery books. Yes, I was a little suspicious of certain characters here and there, but I wasn't really formulating theories of my own much because I was too busy just waiting to see what happen next. By the end of the novel, I was certainly surprised by the tale that Hammett wove and hadn't remotely guessed the conclusion at all.

Overall, I very much enjoyed this book and will be looking forward to reading more Hammett in the near future. I'd recommend this book for those who read for plot as well as though who read for character and, of course, I'd especially recommend it for fans of mystery novels. ( )
1 vote sweetiegherkin | Nov 28, 2014 |
I am not very fond of reading detective novels, but only if they have some cult status such as Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, or, in this case Hammett's The Thin Man.

Supposedly, The Thin Man, published in 1935, is an early and original detective novel, largely laying down the muster for the genre. The novel is centred around six or seven characters, who all know each other well, as family members, friends and acquaintances. While suspicion about the murder first points at the Clyde Miller Wynant, readers nowadays more familiar with the genre would soon rule out that character as the most obvious usually is not the culprit.

The novel is written throughout in mostly dialogue, with very little telling. As a result, the reader is almost as completely in the dark as most of the characters, and starts theorizing about possible candidates and their motive for the murder, which quite obviously seems to be the money.

With the limited role of story-telling, the obvious strategy of the novel is that the only knowledge that is imparted in through the physical presence of the characters, in conversation. It gradually becomes obvious that one character only communicates through correspondance, i.e. letters and telegrams.

The Thin Man contains some references to the period it was written. Quite modern is the suggestion that "junkies" might be responsible for robbery; the etymology of the word "junkie" can be traced to its earliest use in that sense in 1923. It appears in the novel (page 60) along with the word "hop-head" to denote a drug addict, which also sprang up in the jazz era of the 1920/30s' America. Another interesting linguistic feature is the repeated use of the word "speakeasy" for bars during the Prohibition era, from 1920 - 1933 in the United States.

The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett was issued in the Penguin Essentials series in 2012, and it is considered a classic and must read, as such included on the 1001 list of novels one should read. ( )
  edwinbcn | Nov 16, 2014 |
As thoroughly fun as the movie. (And the movie was perfectly cast -- the actors reflected the book wonderfully.) Hammett shines when he doesn't take his characters (or himself) quite so seriously. ( )
  AliceAnna | Oct 23, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dashiell Hammettprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Huhtala, EeroTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Walker, JamesCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I was leaning against the bar in a speakeasy on Fifty-second Street, waiting for Nora to finish her Christmas shopping, when a girl got up from the table where she had been sitting with three other people and came over to me.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679722637, Paperback)

The Thin Man, Dashiell Hammett's classic tale of murder in Manhattan, became the popular movie series with William Powell and Myrna Loy, and both the movies and the novel continue to captivate new generations of fans.

Nick and Nora Charles, accompanied by their schnauzer, Asta, are lounging in their suite at the Normandie in New York City for the Christmas holiday, enjoying the prerogatives of wealth: meals delivered at any hour, theater openings, taxi rides at dawn, rubbing elbows with the gangster element in speakeasies. They should be annoyingly affected, but they charm. Mad about each other, sardonic, observant, kind to those in need, and cool in a fight, Nick and Nora are graceful together, and their home life provides a sanctuary from the rough world of gangsters, hoodlums, and police investigations into which Nick is immediately plunged.

A lawyer-friend asks Nick to help find a killer and reintroduces him to the family of Richard Wynant, a more-than-eccentric inventor who disappeared from society 10 years before. His former wife, the lush and manipulative Mimi, has remarried a European fortune hunter who turns out to be a vindictive former associate of her first husband and is bent on the ruin of Wynant's family fortune. Wynant's children, Dorothy and Gilbert, seem to have inherited the family aversion to straight talk. Dorothy, who has matured into a beautiful young woman, has a crush on Nick, and so, in a hero-worshipping way, does mama's boy Gilbert. Nick and Nora respond kindly to their neediness as Nick tries to make sense of misinformation, false identities, far-fetched alibis, and, at the center of the confusion, the mystery of The Thin Man, Richard Wynant. Is he mad? Is he a killer? Or is he really an eccentric inventor protecting his discovery from intellectual theft?

The dialogue is spare, the locales lively, and Nick, the narrator, shows us the players as they are, while giving away little of his own thoughts. No one is telling the whole truth, but Nick remains mostly patient as he doggedly tries to backtrack the lies. Hammett's New York is a cross between Damon Runyon and Scott Fitzgerald--more glamorous than real, but compelling when visited in the company of these two charmers. The lives of the rich and famous don't get any better than this! --Barbara Schlieper

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:30:11 -0400)

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Nick Charles searches for a wealthy inventor who is the prime suspect in a New York City murder case.

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Editions: 014119460X, 0241962528

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