The Maltese Falcon
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The Maltese Falcon

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  43,630 ratings  ·  2,064 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 (first published 1929)
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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
Steve Sckenda
Oct 26, 2013 Steve 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
David
Maybe it's sacrilege to be thinking of John D. MacDonald while reading The Maltese Falcon, but that's what I've been doing. In 1981, when asked if he were an admirer of Hammett, JDM answered in part, "The prose style of Hammett is certainly a more solid and a more artful style than that of Chandler. But he was an idiot as far as plots are concerned. If you want to drive some high school or college kid nuts, make him do an outline of the plot of The Maltese Falcon. It’s incredibly mixed up and no...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.
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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.
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
Simon
Not only my first novel by Dashiel Hammet but probably the first straight crime novel I've ever read too. I may have seen the film many years ago but couldn't really remember anything about it if I had.

Sam Spade is drawn into a mystery when he's hired by a client but is invariably kept in the dark by all the principle characters involved who all suspect that he knows more than he does. Spade needs to get wise, work out what's going on and who he can trust, if anyone.

I got the feeling, when readi...more
Jonathan
I was hoping for more from this novel than it ultimately delivered in the end. And that was the only thing that made me like this less.

Don't get me wrong the plot was good and the characters interesting but I didn't honestly care for it in the end. I was expecting something that explained itself to far greater effect more in the style of perhaps a slightly older detective novel.

I didn't quite care for the main protagonist either which is why I didn't enjoy this on the whole. He seemed morally am...more
Lynn
Rarely does a great book translate well into a great movie, but this is an instance where I loved them both. I need to read more Hammett because this guy is great. The book is full of wonderful dialogue and sleezy, oddball characters that make this a great read. Of course, the movie has Bogie, so you need to watch that as well.
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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.” 54 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.”
25 likes
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