Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Maltese Falcon - Dashiell Hammett

The Maltese Falcon
I know I have complained a bit about so many of the 100 Best Novels being so similar. I know there is some truth to that, but #56 proved they do not all fall in the same genre.

Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon involves no lonely British women and no colonized countries...well, assuming you're not counting America. We haven't been under British rule for quite a while now, after all. 

Hammett's mystery is one I knew about before starting the challenge. I could not have told you any of the plot or named a single character, but I did at least know it existed. 

The story, as it turns out, is set in San Francisco and is one of the first true detective novels. The protagonist, private investigator Sam Spade, takes on a case without realizing its full scope. Suddenly, he finds himself embroiled in an international escapade with his life on the line.

Sounds like a lot of modern thrillers, right?

I do have to just say, all of Hammett's characters, save one, are simply despicable. Spade does have a few redeeming qualities, but mostly he falls in line with the crew of criminals all fighting over the valuable Maltese Falcon figurine. The only character I truly liked was his secretary.

Hammett offers plenty of twists and turns along the way. The dastardly cast cannot seem to be honest about anything, thus leading both Spade and the reader astray many times. 

I enjoyed the book. It was a nice change of pace. Detective novels are not typically my fare of choice, but I found this classic to be a fun excursion. After all, if you cannot enjoy one of the very first novels that got a genre started, then you will likely not enjoy anything in the genre at all. 

This is one Modern Library list book that I am definitely anxious to see the film. It could be argued that the 1941 adaptation, starring Humphrey Bogart, is more famous than the novel at this point. It's a classic and trailblazer in its own right. It is considered to be one of the very first films in the film noir genre. 

Pages: 213
Date Completed: April 29, 2014


  1. Love this one -- and I adore Effie! She's the best! I hope you enjoy the film -- it is also an all-time favorite in our house.

    1. I can't wait to watch it! I love classic movies and I can't believe this is one I've never seen!