I've been as bad an influence on American literature as anyone I can think of. –Dashiell Hammett
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
Mystery; 217 pgs
Rating: (Very Good)
First Sentence: Samuel Spade’s jaw was long and bony, his chin a jutting v under the more flexible v of his mouth.
Where Book Came From: The book is actually one of my husband's collection.
Reason for Reading: I wanted to read something fun and light for my final book in the Winter Classics Challenge.
Comments: While some may want to argue my choice of considering The Maltese Falcon a classic, I would argue that it is a novel that has stood the test of time and has influenced other authors and works within the same and similar genres. Dashiell Hammett is considered one of the forefather’s of the hardboiled detective novel, The Maltese Falcon being the most well known of his novels. Dashiell Hammett’s name often comes up as a favorite and influencer to many of my favorite mystery writers. It seemed appropriate that I should eventually find my way to one of his books.
Perhaps the most famous medium of the story The Maltese Falcon was the 1941 movie starring Humphrey Bogart, which the Library of Congress classified as being “culturally significant.” The movie is a classic all its own.
What better setting for a mystery involving a jeweled bird, a beautiful woman, hired gunmen, and greedy thieves than the city by the bay, San Francisco? In Dashiell Hammett’s classic hardboiled mystery, private detective Samuel Spade pulls out all the stops. When the lovely Miss Wonderly walks into his office one day offering up two hundred dollars on the spot, both Spade and his partner, Miles Archer, agree to take the case to follow a man in hopes of locating her sister. With the deaths of Spade’s partner and the man who allegedly had run off with Miss Wonderly’s sister, it becomes clear that Miss Wonderly is not who she says she is, and the story she fed the private detectives was far from the truth. The cynical and confident Spade is determined to uncover the truth, no matter how tight lipped his client may be or how much danger he will face.
Sam Spade is the quintessential hardboiled private investigator. He has a talent for getting at the truth and smooth talking his way out of trouble. It’s no wonder he steals the hearts of women. Although I had seen the movie before and knew the story, there is nothing like reading it in print. Dashiell Hammett proved to be a talented writer, taking readers back into the late 1920’s and putting them right into the story. It is no wonder so many mystery authors of today look to Dashiell Hammett as their inspiration.
Favorite Part: I loved reading about Sam Spade in action. He is quite the smooth talker! His confrontations with Lieutenant Dundy were quite amusing. My favorite character, however, would have to be his secretary, Effie Perine, who always came through in a pinch.
For the dish on the author, check out: MysteryNet.com
Read what Pussreboots had to say about The Maltese Falcon.
Miscellaneous: It is a terrfic feeling to have completed the Winter Classics Challenge. Many thanks to Booklogged at A Reader's Journal for hosting the challenge. She motivated me to crack open a handful of classics that I had been meaning to get to for a long while now.