My top ten reasons why this Dashiell Hammett is one of the greatest crime novels ever written 1 The Voice Tough, Crisp hardboiled the story isn t told in first person but certainly has the feel of first person since we are so close to Sam Spade it s as if we re peering over the detective s shoulder from first to last page.2 The City The buildings and streets in San Francisco have such a tangible presence, even today, after nearly 100 years, they still give Maltese Falcon tours 3 Femme Fatale Brigid O Shaughnessy is the femme fatale Her looks, her way of speaking, her cunning, her charms, her allurement legions of writers of detective fiction have changed her name, her home town, color of her hair and eyes, but all you have to do is scratch the surface and there she is.4 Outside the Law Nobody likes a cog in the legal wheel or a grey flannel flunkey following orders Sam Spade is anything but an outsider to the police, district attorney and even his clients, Sammy is his own man, cracking the case in his own way, in his own time and even willing to get socked in the jaw by a police lieutenant or pulled in by a high ranking official to make it happen.5 Tone Sharp and crisp If you read and look carefully, an entire world is disclosed, as for example Spade emptied the unconscious man s pockets one by one, working methodically, moving the lax body when necessary, making a pile of the pockets contents on the desk When the last pocket had been turned out he returned to his own chair, rolled and lighted a cigarette, and began to examine his spoils He examined them with grave unhurried thoroughness 6 Violence Nothing juices the action in a detective fiction than cold bloody murder An entire string of murders are featured here, all happening at the right time to accelerate tempo Also, there s a good amount of roughhouse, with the least likely man in the novel, Joel Cairo, getting beat up every time he turns around Serves him right for thinking himself so refined and above it all 7 The Color of Character Dashiell Hammett set the gold standard here for writers of detective fiction The fat man was flabbily fat with bulbous pink cheeks and lips and chins and neck, with a great soft egg of a belly that was all his torso, and pendant cones for arms and legs As he advanced to meet Spade all his bulbs rose and shook and fell separately with such step, in the manner of clustered soap bubbles not yet released from the pipe through which they had been blown His eyes, made small by fat puffs around them, where dark and sleek Dark ringlets thinly covered his broad scalp He wore a back cutaway coat, black vest, black satin Ascot tie holding a pinkish pearl, striped grey worsted trousers, and patent leather shoes His voice was a throaty purr 8 The Moral Code As one character finds out the hard way, Sam Spade is a man of the high, uncompromising character You will have to read the novel to find out just how high and just how uncompromising 9 The Whole is Greater than the Parts The Maltese Falcon has that special something that separates it from other crime fiction, even crime fiction of the first order What is it Hard to put your finger on it, but as millions of readers have discovered every time they pick it up, this is one doozy of a classic 10, The Dingus Ah, yes, the object of obsessive desire, the bird with all those long lost jewels Has there ever been a famous actor closely connected with a famous object And, yes, in many ways, the much sought after black bird adds a unique aesthetic dimension to this tale of noir. I enjoyed Dashiell Hammett s The Maltese Falcon I d seen the movie however, this was my first read of Hammett s iconic detective story There s a lot of story to unravel the history of the Maltese Falcon statue being the most prominent here and lots of characters with their own motivations and shifting allegiances Hammett s novel also introduces the no nonsense detective, Sam Spade As such, it is one of the precursors of hardboiled detective fiction often associated with noir fiction I d often linked Hammett to Raymond Chandler and works such as The Big Sleep which introduced the detective, Philip Marlowe Chandler s work comes 10 years after The Maltese Falcon Although both works are about crime, they are not essentially crime dramas For one, finding who committed the crime is not the aim of the story At least part of the story is about the damaged and cynical detectives who do the investigating These were new kinds of stories which, I think, had a profound influence on the continuation of noir fiction in both detective fiction and other genres such as science fiction The grittiness and atmosphere laden scenes I associate with these early works finds its way into lots of science fiction some of which I ve read like China Mieville s The City the City and Philip K Dick s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep titled Blade Runner in the film version and some like Jim Butcher s The Dresden Files which I still need to read I guess that was something of a digression, but I just wanted to stress The Maltese Falcon as a forerunner of literature that s still being written. Born in 1894 and serving as a sergeant in World War I, Dashiell Hammett used his experiences to become one of the premier detective writers of the first half of the twentieth century Set in Depression Era San Francisco and introducing the world to Samuel Spade, Hammett s The Maltese Falcon became a detective story that many in the genre still try to measure up to today A classic that helped change the way writers told detective stories, The Maltese Falcon is a classic case that contains all the elements of a fun whodunit Drawing inspiration from his own life, Hammett created Samuel Spade, a private eye detective who saw action in Europe in World War I At the opening of this book, Spade has taken on the services of a new client, one Miss Bridget O Shaughnessy, who requests protection from thugs who have tailed her around the globe Along with the assistance of his partner Miles Archer, Spade takes the case however, Archer is quickly gunned down by one of the aforementioned thugs, and the case spirals into action Spade is forced to work alone with only bit help from his secretary Effie Perrine and a classic whodunit ensues We find out that Spade has contacts all over San Francisco from his work as a private eye detective The police do not desire that a private detective encroaches on their work, and the chief as well as the district attorney are out to get him for Archer s murder, as far fetched as that sounds Underneath the murder and thugs is the root of the case a Maltese Falcon figurine estimated to be worth a million dollars In the depression era this was a large fortune, and O Shaughnessy hopes that Spade helps her procure the Falcon and deliver both her and it to safety before the thugs find them As this is detective noir, O Shaughnessy goes from client to lover and good to bad Each thug has at least one gun or pistol, and goons seem to be hanging around each corner, all as far fetched in character as the next Gutman, the fat man and only one with brains in the group Cairo, the apparent boy loving Levantine and Wilmer, Gutman s hired kid and fall guy Each attempts to force Spade into a corner, which of course, he eventually gets his way out of The Maltese Falcon is a classic detective noir story and fun whodunit A depression era story where everyone wore a trench coat and hat and rolled their own cigarettes, it is also a holdover from the 1920s gangster era, which is becoming one of my favorite eras to read about A pulp noir story that became a movie starring Humphrey Bogart, The Maltese Falcon is a classic detective tale in a genre that I am quickly starting to enjoy I rate The Maltese Falcon 4.5 and look forward to reading of Dashiell Hammett s detective cases. Sam Spade doesn t need to go looking for trouble, trouble finds him I found an interesting hardbound version of this novel at the used bookstore and I couldn t resist it Dashiell Hammett wrote this story originally as a serial in the magazine Black Mask It was eventually published as a novel in 1930 Dashiell Hammett was a major influence on the establishment of hard boiled detective fiction and through film adaptations of his stories film noir Humphrey Bogart played Sam Spade in the most famous adaptation of The Maltese Falcon in 1941 I had seen the film long ago and I remember enjoying it, but to be honest, I couldn t remember the plot I really enjoyed the read, as it s as pure a film noir hard boiled detective story as you get brimmed hats, cigarettes, guns, and even opening with a femme fatale walking into the detective agency as the opening scene If you don t think it s culturally relevant, just know that the prop statue from the 1941 film sold for 4 Million in 2013 Hammett writes well narration is largely just descriptions and we only get motivation of through narration He keeps things simple, but occasionally slips in clever little phrases, such as Spade put the cigarette in his mouth, set fire to it, and laughed smoke out She frowned at her knees She squirmed on her end of the settee and her eyes wavered between heavy lashes, as if trying and failing to free their glaze from his For the most part, he just lets the story playout through the dialog and action of the characters Without any insight into their thoughts or motivation through narration, we still get very distinct and rich characters Spade is determined, cold, and highly observant The feme fatale is devious, manipulative and unreliable, but still somehow alluring and enchanting That Hammett can create such distinctive characters through dialog and action is the sign of a great storyteller I flew through this story.A classic hard boiled detective novel that stands the test of time with excellent writing, strong characters, and an often copied, but certainly entertaining plot. Everything seemed separated for the first sixty pages, with no connection whatsoever But the story was full of suspense and unfolded with many surprises after that The plot was very captivating, and seemed very realistic The main thread is Maltese Falcon I m not going to tell you what it is, as it would be a spoiler and I hate to give spoilers around which everything revolves Its a good read and keeps you guessing till the last.Highly recommend 2012 re readSam Spade s partner is murdered and Sam is determined to find his killer But what does Miles Archer s murder have to do with the client he was working for or the mysterious Maltese Falcon What can I say about one of the Big Two pulp detective novels, the other being The Big Sleep Well, let s seeThe Maltese Falcon embodies a lot of what made pulp detective fiction great, leading to hordes of imitators You ve got the wise cracking detective who has a way with the ladies, gunplay, deceit, sex, and murder Throw in an elusive macguffin and you have a blueprint a lot of writers have been following for over three quarters of a century.Sam Spade, that blonde Satan, is the father of many detectives that came him In fact, it would be interesting to see whether he or Raymond Chandler has bastard detective descendents The plot the Maltese Falcon is fairly simple Somebody has the Maltese Falcon and everyone seems to think Sam Spade knows where it is Miles Archer s murder complicates things a bit but really isn t much than a bump in the road until his killer is revealed.The bad guys and supporting cast are an interesting bunch Brigid O Shaughnessy lays the groundwork for a lot of femme fatales to come Gutman, Cairo, and Wilmer are than just stock characters The cops were a little light on personality but they were mostly in the story to hassle Spade so that s not such of a big deal.Hammett s prose drives the plot along but lacks the poetry of Raymond Chandler s Seventeen years after I read The Maltese Falcon for the first time, I have of an appreciation for Hammett s spare style The plot keeps moving forward without a single misstep It s only 200 ish pages but by the end, it feels like the perfect length for such a tale.Any complaints Not as such Modern readers will probably not like the book s treatment of women but it was written in the late 1920 s so it has to be given a bit of slack Honestly, my only complaints are that there aren t any Sam Spade books and that Dashielle Hammett wasn t Raymond Chandler.For a parting thought, this line of dialogue nicely sums up Sam Spade s character When a man s partner is killed he s supposed to do something about it It doesn t make any difference what you thought of him. Welcome to Spade and Archer detective agency One day a gorgeous woman came in asking to help tracking her sister who ran away with a bad guy The down payment was good, so the detectives took the case, no questions asked As the direct result one of the detectives Sam Spade got to experience all of the traditional noir fun while readers follow ever twisting plot I said it countless times before and I will say it again Sam Spade is the grandfather of all PIs in all noir, in particular all Californian PIs Raymond Chandler s Philip Marlowe included Dashiell Hammett created the genre and most of its tropes Speaking about them this was my reread of the book and this time I was trying to count them as they appear For those doubting Hammett s paternity of noir I can say the following I found them all in here I might miss something, but every single major trope is present Does it show its age Yes, a little Is it still fun to read You bet it is In fact this book along with Red Harvest by the same author is responsible for my love of noir, just like in several generations of readers before me It is most probably a safe bet to say that Sam Spade made Philip Marlowe possible While Hammett s prose is not as stylish as Chandler s nobody s prose is it is still quite good and does not feel antique My rating is 4 stars, exactly the same as it was during my first read recommended to any noir fan, just for historical value if nothing else. C S Lewis once observed that you shouldn t review individual books or stories of a general type that you dislike, because your basic distaste for the genre is apt to blind you to the relative merits of how well the author handles the individual features of his her work, and how it stacks up against other works of the same sort When it comes to the whole noir school of detective fiction, that s probably advice I should heed based both on the little of it that I ve read and what I ve read about it, it s not my cup of tea The problem for me isn t the dark subject matter my literary tastes run to the Romantic school, with its appeal to emotion, and the perils and adventures associated with urban vice and crime in sinister settings can be potentially rife with appeal to various emotions Rather, my negative reaction is to the moral orientation or lack of it the noir vision is typically amoral and cynical, convinced that virtue is virtually nonexistent and doomed to defeat if it does exist, and larded with an industrial strength existential pessimism guaranteed to thoroughly depress most any reader Related to this is the fact that while the traditional mystery genre sees crime as an aberration of the order of things, which can be detected and set straight by the application of reason, noir views crime as the norm and denies that reason and logic can do much with it So, noir detectives don t do much traditional detecting.To try to give Hammett his due within this subgenre, though, this is a well done example of the school its classic status is no accident Sam Spade and the other characters are archetypes, not yet degenerated into stereotypes by the flood of imitations that would follow Spade s likability factor is about nil like all detectives of this stamp, he s often obnoxious, awash in chip on the shoulder bad attitude , but you don t readily forget him, or Brigit O Shaughnessy, Casper Guttman, or Joel Cairo I read this novel forty years ago it was included in a mystery anthology, the title of which I don t remember, made up otherwise of short stories the fact that I can remember it very well after all this time says something about the vividness and force of the writing And the solution to the murder of Spade s partner is one that does call for genuine deduction on his part, and is one I didn t see coming though I might have if I d been familiar with the noir conventions It isn t as surprising as Christie s solution in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd but it comes close A valid criticism might be that the San Francisco setting isn t really evoked very strongly beyond a few place names and isolated details, the locale could be the mean streets of any city of that day But Hammett s interest didn t lie in regional realism or a sense of place.Later examples of noir acquired a reputation for milking sex and violence for all the titillation it was worth, but Hammett avoids explicit sex though he makes it clear that some illicit sex went on at one point or gratuitous directly described violence Likewise, the bad language is well within the bounds of respectable realism for the characters and situations. Sam Spade Is Hired By The Fragrant Miss Wonderley To Track Down Her Sister, Who Has Eloped With A Louse Called Floyd Thursby But Miss Wonderley Is In Fact The Beautiful And Treacherous Brigid O Shaughnessy, And When Spade S Partner Miles Archer Is Shot While On Thursby S Trail, Spade Finds Himself Both Hunter And Hunted Can He Track Down The Jewel Encrusted Bird, A Treasure Worth Killing For, Before The Fat Man Finds Him Book Review4 out of 5 stars to The Maltese Falcon, a classic mystery novel written in 1930 by Dashiell Hammett If you ask a mystery fan when the genre started, a good chunk of them will say during the Golden Age 1920s 30s with authors like Dashiell Hammett, specifically with the creation of the Sam Spade character Immediately what comes to mind is the old fashioned black and white movies with the coat and hat on the detective, the accents and the chase scenes While these are all true, few have actually read these novels I ve been a fan of mystery since I was a young kid, reading a bunch in my teenage years I re read a lot during an independent study course I design while getting my English degree while in college This book was one of the first the Dean and my professor recommended to me I had read parts of it and seen the movies made from it, but I wasn t as familiar with the whole Golden Age But once you read this book, you thirst for It s so well written apart from some of the ideas that have positively changed since then, e.g racial or gender bias from a mystery perspective, you are immediately engaged And one of the sub plots in these types of books are often will he get the girl or is the girl on his side of the bad guy s side In The Maltese Falcon, you get it all It s international It s romantic It s dangerous It s scary It s complex And it ends in a very unexpected kinda way It s a game changer for the genre and that s why it s called the Golden Age For mystery fans, you better have read this one For non mystery fans, it s a good story, and if you like older books, them you should give it a chanceAbout MeFor those new to me or my reviews here s the scoop I read A LOT I write A LOT And now I blog A LOT First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at where you ll also find TV Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I ve visited all over the world And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who what when where and my pictures Leave a comment and let me know what you think Vote in the poll and ratings Thanks for stopping by.