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The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett
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's review
Aug 10, 2010

it was amazing
Read in August, 2010

The Thin Man is the original Taoist detective story. The yin and yang - embodied in the husband and wife teamwork of Nick and Nora Charles - saves the day by doing absolutely nothing. This ranks as the most creative, humorous, and in some ways tragic detective story I've ever read. The creativity and humor are both part of the package. The tragedy is that Hammett's life takes a dark turn after The Thin Man, his last novel. He becomes increasingly involved with the Communist Party, a decision that will eventually pit him against Senator McCarthy, leading to FBI and IRS suits and essentially bankrupting his career. He embraces defeatism about his writing, saying, "I stopped writing because I was repeating myself. It is the beginning of the end when you discover you have style." This after writing five novels in less than five year - three of which became popular stories in film, television, and radio. He loses a suit against Warner Brothers on grounds that the corporation owns all broadcast rights to The Maltese Falcon, and is accused of plagiarizing himself. When he dies of lung cancer in January of 1961, he is a broken and bankrupt man.

One need only read The Thin Man to see the talent and promise squandered by politicians and executives. The Thin Man is a true work of art, and Hammett's most readable contribution to literature.
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