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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 Wonder My top ten reasons why this Dashiell Hammett is one of the greatest crime novels ever written1 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 page2 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 is4 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 uniue aesthetic dimension to this tale of noir

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The Maltese Falcon

Ade finds himself both hunter and hunted can he track down the jewel encrusted bird a treasure worth killing for before the Fat Man finds h Sam Spade a cynical tough yet honest San Francisco private eye is having a good day Miss Wonderly later Leblanc and still later Brigid O Shaughnessy what s in a name a rose by any other name would be confusing comes into his office All sophisticated charm and beauty so she lies a little who doesn t important gives Sam and his disliked partner Miles Archer 200 for a job they could use some cash like most people during hard times Miss WonLeb O Shaughnessy her name slips from one to the other no big deal this happens often in the sleazy business recites a dubious story of a runaway younger sister accompanied by the mysterious Floyd Thursby Effie Perine his loyal secretary tells Sam her woman s intuition says O Shaugnessy is good you can trust not uite Miles agrees to shadow Thursby the couple has just arrived in town it will be Archer s last assignment He is soon found dead in a dark lonely street why And the culprit who killed him this butcher must be found uickly a strange case to solve if possible there are things which remain unknown however afterwards Thursby is also rubbed out this occurs freuently in these type of books for obvious reasons Suspicion falls on Spaderevenge for Thursby shooting his partner maybe or his affair with Archer s wife the cause That s what two inflexible police detectives are investigating the effeminate Joel Cairo comes to Sam s office and tells him about the Maltese Falcon a priceless blackbird statuette from the Middle Ages with a bloody past numerous deaths induced by those wanting possesion of the item Joel offers him a lot of money for its recovery a proposition the detective can t refuse Casper Gutman for once a name which discribes him perfectly the leader of a gang of greedy thieves with a small weight problem is Cairo s secret boss In addition there s the unimpressive Wilmer Cook the murderous kid gunman he enjoys his vocation the weapon makes him feel big After La Paloma a ship from Hong Kong docks in San Francisco Jacobi the captain goes to Sam s office an unusually busy place and expires on the floor with four bullet holes in him the understandable reason But not before giving the shamus a packagecan it possibly be the long sought Maltese Falcon This superb mystery from long ago still brings in the readers and will always do that

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Ley is in fact the beautiful and treacherous Brigid O'Shaughnessy and when Spade's partner Miles Archer is shot while on Thursby's trail Sp 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


10 thoughts on “The Maltese Falcon

  1. says:

    Sam Spade doesn’t need to go looking for trouble trouble finds him I found an interesting hardbound version of this novel at a 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 f

  2. says:

    Look out folkshere comes GREATNESS “When you’re slapped you’ll take it and like it” image error

  3. says:

    My top ten reasons why this Dashiell Hammett is one of the greatest crime novels ever written1 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 page2 The City – The buildings and streets in San Francisco have such a tangible presenc

  4. says:

    Born in 1894 and serving as a sergeant in World War I Dashiell Hammett used his experiences to become one of the

  5. says:

    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

  6. says:

    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 FalconWhat can I say about one of the Big Two pulp detective novels the other being The Big Sleep Well let's seeThe Maltese Falcon

  7. says:

    Sam Spade a cynical tough yet honest San Francisco private eye is having a good day Miss Wonderly later Leblanc and still later Bri

  8. says:

    Everything seemed separated for the first sixty pages with no connection whatsoever But the story was full of suspense and unfolded w

  9. says:

    The Maltese Falcon Dashiell HammettThe Maltese Falcon is a 1930 detective novel by American writer Dashiell Hammet

  10. says:

    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 uestions 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 grandfa