“The Maltese Falcon” By Dashiell Hammett is regarded as a classic in the detective genre. It was published in 1929, and in 1941 it was made into a movie. The book had eluded me before this week, and I was able to finally sit down and read through it. What I thought would only take me a few days, took me a long time to get through, as this book definitely shows its age fast. However, there are a lot of good points to consider, and there’s a reason why this is called a “classic”. I’m torn about the whole thing, but perhaps I can make sense of it as I write this review on what some call the greatest detective novel ever written.
Woa! Sorry to stop your flow of reading. I wanted to interject and say that this is an older review. I know, old content isn’t always great. However, if you’re reading this, just know that this is a review that I wrote after reading the book in 2018. I’m working on 2019’s reviews, and will post them as I can, but this is from my archives. Sorry to break up the flow again, just continue reading, and please try the fish! I mean, buy the book.
A Couple of private detectives are hired by a lovely lady to help her find her sister. Through the course of the novel, however, our hero Sam Spade uncovers a bigger plot, and the twists and turns begin to unravel a bigger mystery. It starts with a missing person, and dives into a caper that you’d expect from modernity, not from a 1929 literary trope. The plot thickens and you are thrown into the same points you see pushed a lot in mystery novels.
For instance, a partner dies, the wife accuses his friend, an affair is revealed. The hero falls for the damsel, then has to remove himself from the situation, causes strife, is almost killed several times, but outsmarts the bad guys at every turn. It’s a formula you know is going to be occurring a great deal, and it’s telegraphed.
I had a terrible time reading through this novel. It was serialized originally, and perhaps that’s why it all feels so stiff. I also picked up some homosexual undertones throughout, but that was something that didn’t seem to be on par with the era, was it? I read later that it was in fact there. I mention that it because it stood out, not because I cared either way. In fact, the bigger picture of the “The Maltese Falcon” By Dashiell Hammett is that I never really cared for the characters. Sam Spade is a good hard boiled detective, trusting no one, asking questions, drinking, and smoking. However, I just didn’t care about what was going on, with the sole exception of the figurine and whether or not it was going to be found.
What can I say? This is a classic novel and I read it. Did I love it? No. I didn’t love it at all. It felt slow, it was hard to get into, and right when I started to sense something coming, it appeared. Maybe that’s because this is one of the early novels of American Literature, and therefore it’s meant to be a lot denser. Maybe it’s just that I’ve seen the movie a lot, or maybe it’s just that the story is a bit dull. I don’t know. There is enough intrigue here to get you going, but is it the “must read” novel that many say it is? No. I don’t think so. I give “The Maltese Falcon” By Dashiell Hammett a 4 out of 5. It should be read by everyone, as it is truly the archetype of the detective novel for years to come. I didn’t love it, but I also didn’t hate it completely. It just was so dense, and at times too linear for my own tastes.
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