Sunday, 13 January 2013

Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon

Enter the world of Sam Spade, where dames are all dangerous

"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. He was your partner and you're supposed to do something about it. Then it happens we were in the detective business. Well, when one of your organization gets killed it's bad business to let the killer get away with it. It's bad all around-bad for that one organization, bad for every detective everywhere."

What a way to start the year book wise. I was not a Dashiell Hammett virgin - I absolutely loved The Thin Man (the novel and the movies) and Red Harvest and of course the unforgettable Bogart vehicle, so I was eager to immerse myself in the world of Sam Spade.
The noir voice that permeates will undoubtedly be familiar to most aficionados. This hard living, hard drinking pragmatist with a soft spot for the ladies is a delightful anti-hero. Women are two-faced, sexy, mysterious and compelling. What is Miss O'Shaughnessy's real story? Tearing through the book at a cracking pace, I found this book certainly did not disappoint. I can't quote directly from it, as I'd lent it to my father immediately upon completion - it was too good not to share.
For some further insight check out the Richard Layman, Library of Congress Web cast  - The Maltese Falcon at 75. His description of the novel as
"the most successful early hard-boiled detective novel, that violent subgenera characterised by a down-and-out detective who is nihilistic, hard drinking and a loner"
is a neat, summary of the Sam Spade character and the broader genre.

There is something smoky, mysterious, dangerous and seductive about Sam Spade's world that will no doubt ensure its continued popularity as a place to visit. 5 out of 5 for a quick visit to the shadier part of town.


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