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The Maltese Falcon

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  57,992 Ratings  ·  2,915 Reviews
A treasure worth killing for. Sam Spade, a slightly shopworn private eye with his own solitary code of ethics. A perfumed grafter named Joel Cairo, a fat man name Gutman, and Brigid O’Shaughnessy, a beautiful and treacherous woman whose loyalties shift at the drop of a dime. These are the ingredients of Dashiell Hammett’s coolly glittering gem of detective fiction, a novel ...more
ebook, 224 pages
Published December 29th 2010 by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (first published 1930)
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Rory Really good, the plot moves thick and fast and the characters talk with such vivacity that you just can't help being invested.
Mike MacDee The only remotely tough thing about reading Hammett's books is he doesn't rely on exposition: the characters suggest their thoughts, histories, and…moreThe only remotely tough thing about reading Hammett's books is he doesn't rely on exposition: the characters suggest their thoughts, histories, and personalities through what they do and what they say, and the reader is never allowed inside their heads. As long as the teen isn't dirt stupid, they won't have any trouble following along.(less)

Community Reviews

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

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


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
Sanjay Gautam
Oct 28, 2015 Sanjay Gautam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everything seemed separated for the first sixty pages, with no connection whatsoever. But the story was full of suspense and unfolded with many surprises after that. The plot was very captivating, and seemed very realistic. The main thread is 'Maltese Falcon' (I'm not going to tell you what it is, as it would be a spoiler and I hate to give spoilers) around which everything revolves. Its a good read and keeps you guessing till the last.

Highly recommend!
Dan Schwent
May 20, 2012 Dan Schwent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jul 29, 2015 Evgeny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 questions 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.

noir dog

I said it countless times before and I will say it again: Sam Spade is the grandfather of all PIs in all noir, in particular all
Jason Koivu
Aug 26, 2014 Jason Koivu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 25, 2015 Forrest rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Call me an uncultured Cretin (it's true), but I've never seen the movie, so I have nothing to compare it to but the only other classic noir book I've ever read (told you I was a Cretin), Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep. Where Chandler's prose sets a baseline from which he can occasionally spring a trick in the form of a clever turn of phrase, Hammett's prose is as straightforward as it gets, which I saw as a minus. That said, the blandness of the language lets the reader concentrate on plot and ...more
Gregor Xane
Mar 22, 2014 Gregor Xane rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
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
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,
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 eyes 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 s
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...
Nov 09, 2013 Maureen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, novels, noir
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
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
Nov 18, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it liked it  ·  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
Larry Bassett
Dec 19, 2013 Larry Bassett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
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
Feb 05, 2009 Adam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 04, 2011 Marvin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, favorites
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
Feb 22, 2014 Laura rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Insomniacs and misogynists
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
Jan 11, 2009 Chloe rated it really liked it  ·  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
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
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

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
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja)
Sam Spade is a street-smart protagonist with a nose for solving crimes and an eye for the ladies, but nothing touches his heart of stone. Not even the quest for a black statue of a falcon that is a priceless treasure, and the beautiful damsel in distress it brings into his life.

What starts as a simple surveillance job becomes a mystery that leads to some dead bodies, that the police are eager to pin on Spade. Spade isn't the man to be played, and he shows his ruthless nature, and keen intelligen
Oct 28, 2015 KOHEY.Y. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: home-library
It's my BIBLE.
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
Cathy DuPont
Nov 10, 2012 Cathy DuPont rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
J.G. 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
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
Mike (the Paladin)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alex Ristea
Feb 09, 2015 Alex Ristea rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
Either I'm not in the mood for old books or detective fiction right now, or if we're being honest: this book is not The Dresden Files and it's not clicking for me right now.

Some folks love watching noir films, or "classic" movies from decades ago—but those never held much sway for me. Modern storytelling or bust (at least at this point in my life).

I haven't given up on Dashiell Hammett right now, but I'm not crazy to try it again anytime soon.
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All About Books: Week 54 – The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett 8 27 Oct 02, 2014 12:50PM  
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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
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“He looked rather pleasantly, like a blonde satan.” 67 likes
“We didn't exactly believe your story.'
Then --?'
'We believed your two hundred dollars.'
'You mean --' She seemed not to know what he meant.
'I mean that you paid us more than if you'd been telling the truth,' he explained blandly, 'and enough more to make it all right.”
More quotes…