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The Thin Man

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  24,995 ratings  ·  1,866 reviews
Nick and Nora Charles are Hammett's most enchanting creations, a rich, glamorous couple who solve homicides in between wisecracks and martinis. At once knowing and unabashedly romantic, The Thin Man is a murder mystery that doubles as a sophisticated comedy of manners.
Paperback, Vintage Books Edition, 180 pages
Published 1972 by Vintage Books (first published 1934)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  24,995 ratings  ·  1,866 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
We found a table. Nora said: "She's pretty."

"If you like them like that."

She grinned at me. "You got types?"

"Only you, darling - lanky brunettes with wicked jaws."

"And how about the red-head you wandered off with at Quinns' last night?"

"That's silly," I said. "She just wanted to show me some French etchings.”

 photo Nick20and20Nora20Charles_zpsfferepr0.jpg

It is almost impossible for me to separate the book from the movies. When I decided to reread this classic that spawned
I invented a new drinking game based on The Thin Man and tried to give it a test run when I re-read it. The rules were simple, every time that main character Nick Charles took a drink, I’d take one, too. However, I had to be taken to the hospital for treatment of extreme alcohol poisoning by the second chapter. So don’t try that.

Nick used to be a private detective in New York, but he left that behind when he married Nora and moved to California to take over the management of the various
Nick Charles used to work in a private detective agency, got married later, came into good money, and took on a hard and thankless job of managing his investments. The beginning of the book finds Nick and his wife Nora in New York. It seemed they were drinking happily (and heavily) in a bar. Later it turned out it was just a mild warm-up routine for some very serious alcohol consumption. We just woke up - let's have a drink. Having trouble sleeping - double scotch is in order. A guest came - dri ...more
Jason Koivu
Apr 11, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
"We didn't come to New York to stay sober."

The Thin Man is best read with a drink in hand. Do you have a drink? Do you need a refresher? Would you like another? Above all else, it is important that you be drinking!


My god, a lot of alcohol is consumed in this book! It reads as if Ernest Hemingway had taken up crime noir.


In The Thin Man, Nick Charles, private detective, has hung up his hat. Nora, his wife, kinda wishes he hadn't. She likes wrapping her head around a good mystery. Well, a good one comes along in the formsober."
Dan Schwent
May 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
An inventor goes missing and his mistress winds up dead. Former detective Nick Charles wants nothing to do with the case but keeps getting drawn in. With his plucky wife Nora, can Nick get things sorted out so he can get back to his drinking?

The Thin Man was not at all like I expected. After reading the exploits of Sam Spade and the Continental Op, I expected more of the same. The Thin Man is much more humorous than Hammett's earlier works and I found myself liking it quite a bit. ...more
David Schaafsma
The Thin Man is a (sort of) noir comic by one of the greats of noir crime history, Dashiell Hammett, who is best known for creating Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon. But The Thin Man was also a well known and much read series, and maybe still is. This one features the lush drinking duo Nick and Nora Charles and opens very much like a screwball comedy. The movie version is a classic, and maybe better than the book in some ways.

“Nora: "How do you feel?"
Nick: "Terrible. I must've gone to bed sober
Grace Tjan
What I learned from this book (in no particular order):

1. A speakeasy is the proper place for a man to wait for his wife to finish her shopping.

2. A Schnauzer is NOT a cross between a Scottie and an Irish terrier.

3. “I hit Nora with my left hand, knocking her down across the room.” If a bad guy points a gun at you and your wife, the standard operating procedure is to knock her out to prevent her from becoming hysterical over such a potentially distressing situati
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Dec 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013

This Christmas you are invited to a party of hard liquor, witty repartee and murder in the company of Nick and Nora Charles.

Powell & Loy

A hardboiled crime comedy might seem like an oddball choice for a winter holiday read, but Dashiell Hammett manages to mix together not only killer martinis, but also a succesful marriage between the mean and dirty Prohibition Era gumshoe detective and the British slick and sophisticated whodunits of Agatha Christie or Dorothy Sayers. Spiced up with some of that enchanting
Honestly? I think the awesomeness of Nick and Nora Charles got built up a little too much for me before I read this, because I was expecting 200 pages of nonstop witty banter between the two, and was mildly disappointed. Sure, Nick is funny in a dry sarcastic way, and Nora is the sassy drunken aunt you never knew you always wanted, but their banter and witticisms only caused the occasional chuckle.

But lucky for me, the book has a lot more going for it than just the banter. It's a fun, classic 3
Nick and Nora Charles are staying at a swanky hotel in Manhattan when word arrives of a missing man. Content to leave his old life behind as a private detective, Nick wants no part of the investigation. However, it isn’t long before Nick is forced into the case and in order to deal with the cast of characters circling the search, he keeps the liquor flowing.

Ah, the 1930s, when alcoholism was considered a charming personality trait as well as the social norm rather than the life-destr
Paul Bryant
Captain Renault : What in heaven’s name brought you to Casablanca?
Rick : My health – I came to Casablanca for the waters.
Captain Renault : Waters? What waters? We’re in the desert.
Rick : I was misinformed.


Thinking Dashiell Hammett would be the go-to guy now that I have run out of Chandlers, I thought : let’s read the very famous The Thin Man. The movie is great, what could possibly go wrong?


Well, for starters, Chandler’s prose i
Nicholas Karpuk
Sep 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hooligans!
Recommended to Nicholas by: Wikipedia
I wasn't aware of this previously, but apparently you just gotta slap a dame when they get hysterical. The things you learn when you read hard-boiled fiction.

"The Thin Man" was read as an attempt to get into the mindset of noir, since a friend of mine is asking me to write him a script in the style. It's one of my first encounters with crime fiction from that era, and I came away generally amused.

Nick Charles is on vacation with his wife Nora. He doesn't want to solve a m
Dec 07, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
'Hard-hitting, Hard-drinking, Fast-talking - classic detective thriller. It does what it says on the tin. For any fans of classic noir, this is not to be missed.
T.D. Whittle
Jul 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
I had never read a Hammett novel until now and, while I did enjoy it, I would be lying by omission if I did not say I like the movies so much better. I suspect this would be the case, too, with Hammett's other famous novels, in which his snappy detectives are the most enjoyable and memorable aspect of the stories. Hammett's writing is as crisp and clean as fresh-pressed linen, which suits his material. I found the book to be a real page-turner, in many ways.

And yet . . . *

I had never read a Hammett novel until now and, while I did enjoy it, I would be lying by omission if I did not say I like the movies so much better. I suspect this would be the case, too, with Hammett's other famous novels, in which his snappy detectives are the most enjoyable and memorable aspect of the stories. Hammett's writing is as crisp and clean as fresh-pressed linen, which suits his material. I found the book to be a real page-turner, in many ways.

And yet . . . *

William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles, Skippy as Asta

I think whether readers enjoy Hammet's writing must depend on whether they like their hard-boiled detective stories in the form of novels because it's a specific kind of fiction, stylistically. Hammett was apparently the hard-boiled writer par excellence, the one to whom all others were compared. I haven't read many of these types of books before. I read people like Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers when I'm in the mood for vintage mysteries. Hammett's writing is high quality but aesthetically minimalist, almost terse at times. The book is nearly all action and dialogue with little to no reflection. I might have liked this more in my youth when I was a big fan of Hemingway and his highly-restrained style. (It's very obvious in reading Hammett that Hemingway was a fan, by the way.) These days, I prefer less focus on action and more quiet reflection and internal dialogue, at least in the books I read. I am different about movies.

William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles, Skippy as Asta

When it comes to films, I am happy with lots of action and snappy dialogue. Some of my favourite movies are Auntie Mame (not the musical but the 1958 one starring Rosalind Russell), Philadelphia Story, My Man Godfrey, and Harvey which are all fast-paced and brimming with witty banter. Besides loving vintage screwball comedies, I just spent a long flight from L.A. to Melbourne binge-watching all the Bogart-and-Bacall movies I could find on the entertainment module, though of course I've already seen them all more than once. They never disappoint but I think it's not that the stories themselves are so gripping. It's the smoke coming off the screen whenever the two of them are together that rivets the attention. And really, can anyone say they prefer reading The Maltese Falcon to watching Bogart play the role of Sam Spade?

William Powell (Nick), Myrna Loy (Nora), and Asta (Skippy) were perfectly cast. Powell and Loy had a playful, sexy chemistry between them that bounces off the screen even now, so many decades on. Both actors have wonderfully expressive faces, flawless delivery, and perfect timing―which is the only kind of timing you can have in comedy of course.

Myrna Loy and William Powell as Nick and Nora Charles

I would have to agree with Paul Bryant's review, too, that most of the witty repartee is in the film, not the book. The surprising (for the time) sensuality is intact in the book, rather like a water gun that sprays every attractive person within a ten-foot radius. Everybody notices everybody else's sex appeal; everyone drinks constantly; no one ever expresses themselves openly and honestly except Asta, the Schnauzer, who cannot help herself. (She morphs into a male wire-haired terrier in the film but just as endearing, because dogs just are, aren't they?)

I have to go back and re-watch the movies now. I have not seen them in years. I had forgot who actually perpetrated the series of crimes, so that did come as a surprise. I could not work it out, since no one ever talks straight in this book. Nick, despite drinking heavily and having to wrestle down women and punch men from time to time, managed to work out all the details in the end. I didn't care for the very last line of the book, but perhaps I am too particular about such things. Last lines, to me, are as important as first ones. The final line of the book is Nora saying, "That may be ... but it's all pretty unsatisfactory," which left me with the feeling that she hadn't quite liked the way Nick had come to his conclusions in this very messy case. As final lines go, I found her response pretty unsatisfactory!

Myrna Loy and William Powell as Nick and Nora Charles

* Nicole Krauss, The History of Love
Nov 10, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If I weren't the mean teacher I am I'd cut Hammett slack and round up to four stars because this---the last of his novels---is a solid 3-1/2. And that's only because it pales in comparison to every one of his other novels except THE DAIN CURSE, which is the true 3-star.

The main knock on THIN is that Hammett was pretty much bored with fiction by this point in his career, having lost his bearings to booze, broads, and just about any other indulgence that began with a B except Billy Barty (too sho
Sep 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: detectives, alcoholics
Somehow I never saw this movie or read this book during my six-month crime noir kick in ninth grade (though I did read Hammett's The Maltese Falcon and The Glass Key aroud that time). But, boy, I'm glad that I've read it now.

The Thin Man is the last novel Hammett completed (though he started or pretended to start a half-dozen others) and it has the feel of being a parady of his other novellas and the 1930s crime genre in general. It is fabulously funny - as in, I couldn't go two pages without t
Bruce Beckham
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a slender book in more ways than its title.

If you are a style aficionado, the thrift with which Dashiell Hammett writes is something to savour. I recall when I read The Maltese Falcon vividly ‘seeing’ each new character he introduced, and The Thin Man is no different. Take this excerpt, for example, describing the uninvited appearance of gangster Shep Morelli in sleuth (& protagonist) Nick Charles’ bedroom doorway:

“He was a plump, dark, youngish man of medium height, broad/>“He
Krok Zero
Man, what the hell? This book kind of sucks for some reason. Everyone knows that Hammett pretty much single-handedly invented modern crime fiction, and The Maltese Falcon is an enduring masterpiece that may still stand as the most geometrically perfect example of the detective novel form. The Thin Man is his second most famous work, owing to the popular Hollywood film series loosely based on characters therein, but it is an undistinguished, amateurish work that does not hold up on its own terms. (This gi ...more
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
I will freely admit that part of why I read this book was that I enjoyed what I have seen of the movie so much. I actually didn't get to watch all of it, as I caught it on Turner Classic Movies after it started and wasn't able to watch the whole movie. I made a note that I wanted to read the book and get the whole movie set on DVD at some point. Additionally, I am interested in the roots of the detective novel. You can't explore detective fiction without reading Dashiell Hammett. So here we go.. ...more
Moonlight Reader
So, this one was a bit underwhelming, to be perfectly honest. I wanted to like it, with it's aura of louche 1930's glamour. Unfortunately, I basically disliked all of the characters except for Nick & Nora. On second thought, I disliked Nick, too.

I was especially uncomfortable with Dorry, who was depicted as a hormonally-driven drunken teenager, and Nick's reaction to her tight little body made me more than a little uncomfortable (actually, I'm not sure if she was a teenager). Her brot
Mike (the Paladin)
Okay...if you're into "hard-boiled" detective fiction or mystery fiction I'm sure you'd rate this book higher. Maybe for me it would even be a 3.5 if I could go there.

The dialogue held me here, the by play and banter between Nick, Nora, and then the entire cast of characters. It was well written and well characterized. I suppose it was also well plotted only, I just don't seem to be a mystery fan. I had to keep dragging my interest back to the book. Maybe the fact that I loved the mo
Debbie Robson
Jul 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can’t believe it’s been two years since I read Chandler’s The Big Sleep which I really enjoyed. I was expecting something similar but of course The Thin Man is it’s own creation with marvellous, witty dialogue between husband and wife, Nick and Nora Charles. I love the dryness of Nick:
“Do you suppose he killed her?” Nora asked when I put the paper down again.
“Wynant? I wouldn’t be surprised. He’s batty as hell.”
“Did you know her?”
“Yes. How about a drop of something to c
Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, I liked this one. I liked it a lot. I like the pace and I love Nick and Nora. It was witty and fun with an ending I didn't see coming. I want to go watch the movie!
Once again, a fascinating array of women pop in and out of the story. Nora isn't really a main character - it really is Nick - but she keeps him from being too....Same Spade-ish. Narcissistic. I'm not sure what. There is a mutual respect there I liked because it bridged the usual dismissive treatment of women in
Willis Markuske
Oct 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favorite Hammett book. Written with the same economical and sparse style of his other novels, the tone couldn't be more different. Nick & Nora Charles are fun characters who come off much more 3 dimensional - as opposed to archetypcal - than either Sam Spade or the Continental Op.

Plot is almost a secondary concern here which is rare for a mystery. Instead the almost constant drinking and flirting the two main characters engage in (with each other and whomever else is around) get top bill
Jul 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
This is the first Hammett novel I've read. I don't know why I haven't made the effort to read such an iconic writer before, particularly as I am a long-time crime fiction reader and a fan of "classic" mysteries. It may be my first Hammett, but I'm pretty sure it won't be my last.

I've just finished re-reading all of the novels of Dorothy L Sayers, who is without doubt my favourite writer of "Golden Age" mysteries. It was interesting to compare The Thin Man with Sayers' novels. It's ce
Dec 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hammett's last novel, THE THIN MAN doesn't refer to the ex-detective Nick Charles, but a different character. Nick and Nora Charles with their dog Asta were famous in the popular THIN MAN movies starring the witty and suave William Powell with Myrna Loy. The novel, however, shows a grittier side with its muggings, narcotics, and lots of booze consumed. By the end, THIN MAN reads like an elaborate whodunnit I had trouble at times following. The quality dialogue is probably the real strength. I'll ...more
Read in 2012 - pre Goodreads.

Review 11.30.17 - I loved this book! Enjoyed the movie, too. I became a Dashiell Hammett fan after this. Sorry about what happened to him in later life.
Jason Pettus
(Since the beginning of 2008 I've been writing an ongoing series of essays here that I call the "CCLaP 100," whereby I read for the first time a hundred books considered by many to be classics, and then write reports here on whether or not I think they deserve this label. For the complete list of books, as well as an explanation behind how the list was compiled, you can click here.)

The CCLaP 100: In which I read for the first time a hundred so-called "classics," then write reports on whether or not th/>The
Lauri Saplad
I was a bit underwhelmed by this one. I'd put off reading it for so long, I think I had built it up in my mind. It is a classic whodunit set in the bad old days complete with lots of smoking, drinking and snappy patter. It was a twisty mystery with lots of surprises & shady characters. Nick & Nora Charles are very likable-- the Wynants? Not so much. I'm glad I did finally finish it, but it was a struggle!
Aug 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 Stars - Good book

I don't have much to say about this one. It's a good crime book, nothing more, nothing less. I found the writing direct and to the point but not obvious. I enjoyed it. The main character was okay, though he did act like a bit of a jerk from time to time. I found his wife a more compelling character. I think I would have liked this book more if she was the main character. That being said, I found nearly everyone else in this book irritating but good characters, as in the
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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 influe
“The problem with putting two and two together is that sometimes you get four, and sometimes you get twenty-two.” 246 likes
“Nora: "How do you feel?"
Nick: "Terrible. I must've gone to bed sober.”
More quotes…