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The Maltese Falcon
 
by
Dashiell Hammett
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The Maltese Falcon

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  48,277 ratings  ·  2,330 reviews
Sam Spade and Brigid O'Shaughnessy track down the mysterious statue in this story of intrigue and suspense.
Paperback, 217 pages
Published August 1st 1992 by Black Lizard Books (first published 1929)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Stephen
Look out folks…here comes GREATNESS

“When you’re slapped, you’ll take it and like it”

GIFSoup

Sam Spade (played by the legendary Humphrey Bogart) bitch-slapping the manhood out of Joel Cairo (played by Peter Lorre)….and telling him to shut up and take it!! Do I really need to continue the review after that? That is perfection. However, for those tough sells I will continue with my “Why is this book Awesome” thesis.

First, this story IS NOIR. Now there are a lot of wonderful noirs out there, many o...more
sckenda
Aug 07, 2014 sckenda rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of Hard Boiled Crime Noir
Sam Spade will not play the sap for you. Shove off before you lose some teeth, because Sam will sniff out your game and disarm you without disturbing the curling black ash of his cigarette. At the San Francisco detective agency of Spade and Archer, they won’t believe your story, but they will believe your $200 cash retainer—which goes a long way towards establishing good faith in the 1920’s.

Sam talks in a matter-of-fact voice, devoid of emphasis. He prefers not to carry a gun, but he can fake in...more
Dan Schwent
2012 re-read...
Sam 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 Falcon?

What can I say about one of the Big Two pulp detective novels, the other being The Big Sleep? Well, let's see...

The Maltese Falcon embodies a lot of what made pulp detective fiction great, leading to hordes of imitators. You've got the wise-cracking detective who has a way with the ladies, gunpl...more
Jason Koivu
You got nothin' on this book, see?! Yeah! That's right, skedaddle and quick-like!

Private detective Sam Spade smells trouble when a crazy dame walks into his office, and sure enough, his life is soon turned topsy turvy. Spade gets all tangled up in a fishy double murder. The coppers are on him, he's on to the dame and people keep popping outta the woodwork goin' on and on about this g. d. bird! If things keep up like this somebody's gonna get themselves killed dead.

Since the book's publication, t...more
Werner
C. S. Lewis once observed that you shouldn't review individual books or stories of a general type that you dislike, because your basic distaste for the genre is apt to blind you to the relative merits of how well the author handles the individual features of his/her work, and how it stacks up against other works of the same sort. When it comes to the whole noir school of detective fiction, that's probably advice I should heed; based both on the little of it that I've read and what I've read abou...more
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Book Circle Reads 36

Rating: 3.5* of five, because I love the movie more

The Publisher Says: Sam Spade, Dashiell Hammett's archetypally tough San Francisco detective, is morenoirthanL.A. Confidentialand more vulnerable than Raymond Chandler's Marlowe. InThe Maltese Falcon, the best known of Hammett's Sam Spade novels (includingThe Dain CurseandThe Glass Key), Spade is tough enough to bluff the toughest thugs and hold off the police, risking his reputation when a beautiful woman begs for his help,...more
Gregor Xane
The writing in Hammett's Maltese Falcon seemed to get more fluid as it went along. It started out stilted and choppy. I also wasn't particularly keen on his predilection for cataloging every single item of clothing every character was wearing. Another thing that I found strange was his choice to describe in user-manual detail exactly how, step-by-step, Sam Spade rolls a cigarette. This happened early in the book and killed the forward movement of the narrative for me.

But I read on because I foun...more
Maureen
there are these big stories, stories that aren't necessarily long but are tremendously meaningful. they carry seeds of big things, of fundamental truths, that whisper to us of some big answer, the kind of answer we might wish for or even dread but don't dare believe. chipping away at the bumpers in the pinball game of our brains, these are ideas that compel us, that make us pause, and consider just what it's all about, and where we fit in. there's a story like that in this book. it's called the...more
Kemper
This book is pretty good. Too bad it’s not better known. And it’d be cool if somebody made a decent movie version of it someday...
Madeline
So, a dame walks into a private detective's office...stop me if you've heard this one before.

Let's be honest, you probably have. But luckily this is no ordinary dame. And the office belongs to no ordinary detective. They are Miss Wonderly (not her only name, by the way) and Sam Spade, the mold by which all hard-boiled fast-talking slang-laden detective stories are made. The Maltese Falcon chronicles their shared adventures chasing a valuable, bejeweled falcon statuette that's been stolen and br...more
Larry Bassett
There is something about reading a book that your Dad could have read when he was a teenager. This is that kind of a book for me. My Dad was born in 1920 and The Maltese Falcon was published in 1930. I am pretty sure that this pulp fiction wasn’t on the bookshelf of his southern Baptist household, but it is the right era.

So what do you do when you run into a book published in the 1930s? You watch the movie with Humphrey Bogart made in the 1940s. What a terrific movie! “She’s a knockout!” If the...more
Marvin
I had one minor annoyance in reading this novel. I have seen the movie and I simply cannot get the voices of the actors out of my mind, especially those of Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Humphrey Bogart. It doesn't help that the dialogue of the film is almost totally out of the book. In spite of that, The Maltese Falcon is a hard-boiled delight from beginning to end. It doesn't matter that all the characters are louses, including the charismatic but hardened Sam Spade. It reeks of grittine...more
Shovelmonkey1
Nov 18, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of the feisty heist
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
Sam Spade, slow baked, hard boiled detective is hired by the mysterious red head Miss Wonderley to track down her kidnapped sister.... or so he thinks. The trail doesn't even get a chance to warm up when Sam Spade's soft boiled detective partner is shot in the chest. Dead men don't tell tales and so it's up to Sam pick up the trail and add two and two together, which incidentally in this case makes $10,000. Sam is also forced to decide if a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush when he finds...more
Adam
Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon is probably the first great hard-boiled P.I. novel. It is not the first detective novel, and Hammett's protagonist, Sam Spade, has his literary progenitors (e.g., C. Auguste Dupin, Sherlock Holmes, Nick Carter, Hercule Poirot), but the "hard-boiled P.I." formula that became so popular in the '30s and '40s (and remains popular today) is perfectly realized in this novel.

Originally serialized in five parts in Black Mask magazine from September 1929 to January 1...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
This was a fun little bit of action. The most appealing thing about this book is the glimpse of life in San Francisco eighty years ago. Hammett was very skillful in his descriptions of clothing, accessories, and interior decor, as well as the sartorial affectations of each character. My how things have changed.
I don't know about anyone else, but I found this story rather comedic. A bunch of incompetent ne'er-do-wells chasing each other all over town and every once in awhile somebody gets bumped...more
Henry Avila
Sam Spade, a 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.So she lies a little, who doesn't!More important ,she gives Sam and his disliked partner Miles Archer, $200 for a job.Miss Won...Leb... O'Shaughnessy, tells a dubious story of a runaway younger sister,accompanied by the mysterious Floyd Thursby.Effie Perine his secretary, tells Sam, h...more
matt

This one's a gem. Calculating, ruthless, cool, suave, subtle, arithmetic, sexy, dark, breathless, detached, cool, slightly paranoid, slightly chivalrous, slightly drunk.

Did I mention it was cool?

O and, like, Sam Spade's a great character too.

Nothing like a little economy to keep a story's tension fraught. I'm a sucker for sharp sentences and utter crystallinity in prose settings and this one is rife with both.

A classic, trendsetter for a reason. It's bloody good.

And sam spade has got to be one o...more
Cathy DuPont
Although this book was in The Black Lizard Big Book of Black Mask Stories, I decided to enter it as a book because in every aspect, it is indeed a book and is counted as one of the five books written by Dashiell Hammett, along with numerous short stories. The book I read was the serialized version, originally published in Black Mask, beginning September 1929 and ending January 1930. The books itself was published February 14, 1930.

Historically it is considered the groundbreaking and first in the...more
Brandon
Here we go. Book number two in my 25 crime-fiction classic list! After finishing this, I probably should've started with this one but honestly, who's going to blame me for reading a Raymond Chandler novel first?

Sam Spade and Miles Archer, private eye's residing in San Fransisco, are hired by a woman to procure the safe return of her little sister after she has run off with another man. While Spade accepts the job, he doesn't completely buy Ms. Wonderly's story feeling that there is more to what...more
Chloe
Jan 11, 2009 Chloe rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ernest Hemingway, Bruce Willis, Hugh Jackman and others plagued with an overabundance of machismo
How does one even begin to review a book enshrouded in so much history, both cinematic and literary, as The Maltese Falcon? At the beginning, natch! This is a story that nearly everyone is familiar with, if only in a passing way. Bogart and Peter Lorre's characters are nearly permanently imprinted in our cultural consciousness.

Fortunately we're talking about books, not films, and all respect to Humphrey Bogart but Hammett's Sam Spade is an oaf. A lumbering buffoon of a detective who seems to be...more
Laura
I love detective fiction. This was a horrible, horrible book. I can think of no redeeming qualities in it to recommend it to a single soul. Hmm....perhaps if you're suffering from insomnia, and find yourself awake at 3am, and you've already counted a couple of thousand sheep, and you're losing hope of ever seeing Mr. Sandman again? You might consider it.

Or, if you're a weak, ineffectual man who's never had a date in his life, and enjoys acting out his hopelessly unrealized fantasies in which he...more
Nicholas Armstrong
Hmmmm. Well, I give it credit for what it was. The twists and the turns were fun to run behind and you never did know what was coming next. So it was, at the least, enjoyable. Unfortunately, there is the rest of what the book is.

Spade, for example, is an asshole. There is no part of him that is anything but. He sleeps with married women, whores himself around, and in general acts like a prick to everyone he comes in contact with, even a detective friend of his. It seems silly that he would have...more
Keely
Despite his small output, Hammett's influence on books is considerable: fast-paced plots wrapped tightly around eccentric characters and tacked up with idiomatic quips. Hammet is capable of drawing the reader in with tone and wit, but then his golden threads unravel.

As often as his simplicity achieves elegance, it can equally grow cumbersome and repetitive. His unpolished tone has a great deal of charm, but to write simply is harder than it seems. For the simple plot to become tight-laced, it mu...more
Jim
I've read this & "The Thin Man" before, but not for many years, so no rating yet. I'm due to re-read it for a book group soon. Probably more fair to rate it then as the book & the movie have melded in my head. I remember liking both quite a bit, but it says something that I haven't re-read the book.
--------
Jan09, I'm reading it again with an entirely new appreciation of it. The story line was great. It's a mystery with a tough PI in it. He's a tough, but flawed man, which makes the story...more
John
May 01, 2008 John rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Some library site I visited was celebrating The Maltese Falcon as not only a great detective novel, but a great book. I wholeheartedly agree. It took me two nights of reading to get through it, and I loved it more than a movie -- and maybe even a good NBA game.

I'd seen the movie, so I did picture Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade early in the book, but the rest of the characters were described so well by Dashiell Hammett. Each scene you could feel the late night tension of the situations, despite Sp...more
Mike (the Paladin)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kaethe
When in doubt, read some noir. There's nothing like a mystery filled with bad people to reaffirm that all is right with the world.
Jane Stewart
3 ½ stars. The plot and characters were pretty good. Not great, but enjoyable.

So many PI mysteries are 1st person which I do not like. This is 3rd person. I was so pleased with 3rd person that I rounded to 4 stars. Sadly I noticed the author used 1st person in some of his other PI mystery novels.

Many say this book created the classic “noir” genre.

I recently read a different book and gave it a low rating because the detective just went around asking questions. This book has more than just asking...more
Becky
I picked this book up on a whim at a library sale. I'd heard of "The Maltese Falcon" but I'd never read it, and hadn't even seen the movie, so I wasn't sure what to expect.

I can't say that I loved it, but I certainly didn't hate it. It seems to me that the style of the writing was a bit off-putting. Maybe I'm just not used to reading books that were written in the 1920s and so the sentence structure and the style just didn't work for me.

The writing seemed a bit minimalist. Rather than describi...more
Carrie
Oh boy! Am I hard-boiled now or what? This was a perfect book to pick as my new commuting book, because I had jury duty today, and what better company for a stressful day filled with annoying bureaucracy than Sam Spade and his tough-talking fast-thinking ways? I’m not sure whether I have read the book before, or whether I have just seen the movie, but either way I enjoyed it immensely.

The plot doesn’t make too much sense – lots of double crossing and shooting and such, and I didn’t really care m...more
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All About Books: Week 54 – The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett 8 23 Oct 02, 2014 12:50PM  
Classics Without ...: * Discuss Sam Spade as a detective 22 78 Jul 22, 2014 07:06PM  
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Classics Without ...: Discuss Loyalty 4 43 Jun 29, 2014 11:49PM  
RG2013: El halcón maltés 7 9 May 22, 2013 07:16PM  
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Also wrote as Peter Collinson, Daghull Hammett, Samuel Dashiell, Mary Jane Hammett

Samuel Dashiell Hammett was an American author of hardboiled detective novels and short stories. Among the enduring characters he created are Sam Spade (The Maltese Falcon), Nick and Nora Charles (The Thin Man), and the Continental Op (Red Harvest and The Dain Curse). In addition to the significant influence his nove...more
More about Dashiell Hammett...
The Thin Man Red Harvest The Glass Key The Dain Curse The Continental Op

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“He looked rather pleasantly, like a blonde satan.” 58 likes
“Joel Cairo: You always have a very smooth explanation ready.
Sam Spade: What do you want me to do, learn to stutter?”
29 likes
More quotes…