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The Thin Man

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From the Publisher:
"Nick and Nora Charles are Hammett's most enchanting creations, a rich, glamorous couple who solve crimes in between wisecracks and martinis. Originally published in 1933, The Thin Man is the story of respectable people who are prepared to murder between drinks--and do. 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."

201 pages, Paperback

First published December 1, 1933

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About the author

Dashiell Hammett

503 books2,321 followers
Also wrote as Peter Collinson, Daghull Hammett, Samuel Dashiell, Mary Jane Hammett

Dashiell Hammett, an American, wrote highly acclaimed detective fiction, including The Maltese Falcon (1930) and The Thin Man (1934).

Samuel Dashiell Hammett authored hardboiled novels and short stories. He created Sam Spade (The Maltese Falcon), Nick and Nora Charles (The Thin Man), and the Continental Op (Red Harvest and The Dain Curse) among the enduring characters. In addition to the significant influence his novels and stories had on film, Hammett "is now widely regarded as one of the finest mystery writers of all time" and was called, in his obituary in the New York Times, "the dean of the... 'hard-boiled' school of detective fiction."

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dashiell...

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,658 reviews
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 3 books248k followers
February 8, 2020
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 six great movies, Nick Charles was of course William Powell, and Nora Charles was of course Myrna Loy. Those actors are forever Nick and Nora for me. The book is famous for the witty exchanges between Nora and Nick, but the book is somewhat overshadowed by the wonderful repartee between Powell and Loy over the course of the six movies. The scintillating, amusing conversations are punctuated by Loy’s uptilted nose and impish smile and Powell’s infectious grin as he takes pleasure in toying with his wife’s state of mind.

We must not forget the Charles’s dog Asta. ”That afternoon I took Asta for a walk, explained to two people that she was a Schnauzer and not a cross between a Scottie and an Irish terrier….” The dog, Skippy, who was cast in the movie was a Wire Fox Terrier. I have a six month old Scottish Terrier, whose name is Astra after the state motto of Kansas, ad astra per aspera. Astra in Latin means stars. For those who know us and how much we love The Thin Man movies, they always assume that it is also a nod to Asta...and they would be right. Asta doesn’t provide the comic relief in the book that he does in the movie, but he is a presence for most of the book. There are usually some light hearted moments with Asta in every movie where they are chasing him around the room trying to retrieve a vital clue from between his jaws or other scenes where he is just doing something terminally adorable that brings a bit more lightheartedness to the script.

Dashiell Hammett based the Charles’s off his own tempestuous on-again and off-again relationship with Lillian Hellman. From what I’ve read, he definitely must have focused on the sunnier side of the relationship because one of the most enjoyable things about this dynamic couple is their friendly, jocular interactions, highlighted with the rich overtones of how much they admire and like one another. Hellman and Hammett fought like Siamese Fighting Fish. The fights that Nick and Nora get into are playful, funny, and foreplay that provides Nick with an opportunity to grab Nora and plant a kiss on her that will shake her fillings.

There really aren’t a lot of happy married couples in noir literature. Hardboiled mystery writers seem to focus on characters as singular individuals. They are usually divorced or single, and if they are married, they certainly aren’t happily married. Nick and Nora are best together, and as the investigation in the story moves forward, they seem a bit unmoored when they are apart. They drink heavily, mirroring the Hellman and Hammett relationship in that aspect.
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”She sat on the sofa beside me. ‘Now out with it. If you skip a single word, I’ll---’

‘I’d have to have a drink before I could do any talking.’

She cursed me and brought me a drink.”

Nick doesn’t want to investigate crime. He is perfectly happy spending his days drinking martinis and looking after Nora’s money, but Nora is obsessed with his previous life as a private investigator and certainly has a rosy, unrealistic view of the profession. So the way the stories go in the book and the movies is that invariably Nora drags Nick into an investigation. He reluctantly agrees to see what he can do, which is to cleverly solve the crime and wrap up the criminals for the bungling cops to haul off to jail. In this book, he is investigating the murder of a mistress of the mad scientist Clyde Wynant, and in the course of his investigation, he and Nora have to contend with the whole Wynant clan, each as loony as the next. The ex-wife Mimi is a real piece of work, a combination of curves and cunning. She tries to use both assets on Nick, and needless to say, things get out of hand.

”’Tell me something, Nick. Tell me the truth: when you were wrestling with Mimi, didn’t you have an erection?’

‘Oh, a little.’

She laughed and got up from the floor. ‘If you aren’t a disgusting old lecher,’ she said.”

Did she just say erection? My, my goodness sakes, Nora. Do you kiss Nick with that mouth? Why yes, she does.

 photo thinmankiss_zpscqrjijie.jpg

If you take a drink every time Nick orders an alcoholic beverage, you will be plowed by the time you get 30 pages into the book or thirty minutes into the movie. The heavy drinking in this book and the movies might be more than a hint to Dashiell Hammett’s own struggle with alcohol. It might also be the key to why he stuck with Hellman so long. She was a heavy drinker too, and as happens sometimes, couples bond over drinking. Their drinking escalates with dual encouragement, and they become caught in a cycle of maladaptive drinking. I certainly can feel jealous of Nick and Nora’s lifestyle. They can leave a city at the drop of the hat and go to any other city in the world. Money is not an issue, and time is something they have in abundance. They are about as free as two people can ever hope to be. Oh, and they are hopelessly, head over heels in love with one another. Freedom, plenty of money, and someone who loves us, what more could anyone wish for? I highly recommend the book and the movies paired with a few vodka martinis shaken not stirred.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten
Profile Image for Anne.
4,060 reviews69.5k followers
August 20, 2023
I really wasn't expecting to love this one as much as I did.
I just wanted to read it because it seems to be one of the gold standards for hardboiled detective stories. But I didn't think I'd actually like the characters.
They were so cool, though!
And now all I want is to have a drink (or ten) with Nick & Nora Charles.


There's really nothing like a couple of lovable drinkers reluctantly solving a dangerous mystery. The story could have been dark and depressing what with all the lies, beatings, bigamy, adultery, and murder. But it never felt like anything but a fun romp through the seedy underworld.
The dialogue is really what makes it here. It's snappy, and quirky, and witty, and just plain fun.


Plus, it's short!
The length was perfect for someone with my attention span (<--that of a squirrel), so if you're one of those people who aren't quite sure you want to read something written in 1934, it might make you feel better to know it's only a couple hundred pages.


Ok. So here's how much I loved this one: As soon as I was done, I immediately downloaded The Maltese Falcon and The Glass Key. And now I've got to find all the Nick & Nora movies...


Highly Recommended!
Profile Image for Kemper.
1,390 reviews6,972 followers
July 4, 2015
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 businesses her father left her. Why couldn’t Nora run them herself? Because this was 1933 so in addition to casual alcoholism being an accepted part of everyday life, the lady folks weren’t going to be left in charge of something as important as business. Ah, the good ole days…

Nick and Nora are on a Christmas vacation trip back to New York when Nick bumps into the daughter of an old client of his, Clyde Wynatt. Wynatt has gone missing and a woman associated him was murdered so everyone from the family to Wynatt’s lawyer to the cops think that Nick is working the case. Nick would prefer to just do some more drinking, but Nora is intrigued by the idea of watching her husband play detective and other events transpire to pull Nick into reluctantly investigating in between glasses of whiskey.

Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon and Red Harvest are two of my favorite detective novels as well as being considered classics of the genre. This one shows off a bit of his versatility in that it reads as a witty comedy with a dash of murder rather than a hard boiled mystery. The banter between Nick and Nora is fun, and his casual remarks about needing a drink with breakfast just to “cut the phlegm” make for their own kind of anachronistic amusement.

The mystery is kind of a convoluted mess, but Hammett managed to tie it all together with a resolution that makes sense. It’s not my favorite book of his, but it’s got a dated charm that makes it a fun read. 3.65 stars.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews33 followers
April 30, 2022
The Thin Man, Dashiell Hammett

The Thin Man (1934) is a murder mystery that doubles as a sophisticated comedy of manners. 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.

عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «ترکه مرد»، «مرد لاغر»؛ نویسنده: دشیل همت؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: سال2001میلادی

عنوان: ترکه مرد، نویسنده: دشیل همت؛ مترجم: احمد میرعلائی؛ تهران، طرح نو، سال1372؛ در هشت صفحه و244ص؛ فروست: مجموعه کتابهای سیاه؛ شابک9789644890635؛ چاپ دوم سال1389؛ موضوع: داستانهای پلیسی از نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده20م

عنوان: مرد لاغر، نویسنده: دشیل همت؛ مترجم: حسن زیادلو؛ تهران، هزار افسان، سال1391؛ در286ص؛ شابک9786005021264؛

عنوان: مرد لاغر، نویسنده: دشیل همت؛ مترجم: پرویز نصیری؛ تهران، روزنه کار، سال1396؛ در286ص؛ شابک9786007876077؛

روانشادمان «دشیل همت» کسی بودند، که به «ادبیات جنایی و پلیسی»، رونق و اعتبار بخشیدند؛ این سبک آن روزها در «ایالات متحده آمریکا» به وجود آمده بود، ایشان دو دهه محبوب «هالیوود»، و جامعه ی خوانشگران کتاب «آمریکا» بودند، این کتاب مبنای ساخت «شش فیلم سینمایی»، و یک نمایش موزیکال بوده است، شاید شخصیت «همفری بوگارت» نماینده ی بیرونی کیش شخصیتی باشد، که «دشیل همت» آن را آفریدند؛ داستان در ماه دسامبر سال1932میلادی، در شهر «نیویورک» جریان دارد؛ شخصیتهای اصلی «نیک چارلز» کارآگاه خصوصی پیشین، و همسر جوان، و باهوش او «نورا» هستند؛ «نیک» پسر یک مهاجر «یونانی» است، از زمان ازدواجش با «نورا»، کار خود را رها کرده، و بیشتر زمان خود را با شادمانی در اتاقهای هتل، و کنفرانسهای سخنرانی میگذراند؛ «نیک» و «نورا» فرزندی ندارند؛ «نیک چارلز»، بیشتر بر خلاف میل خویش، به دنبال پژوهش درباره یک کشتار کشانده میشود؛ این پرونده آنها را در تماس با «وینانتس» یک خانواده ی کهنسال، و با پلیسهای گوناگون و سربازان پایین رتبه قرار میدهد، آنگاه که «نیک» و «نورا» تلاش میکنند راز پرونده را بگشایند، گفتگوهای هجوآمیز و شوخ طبعی بسیار پیش میآید

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 25/04/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 09/02/1401هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for David Putnam.
Author 18 books1,596 followers
July 14, 2020
I enjoyed this book a great deal. For years I have heard readers and literary pundits talk about how Chandler and Hammett are the grandfathers of mystery. For me, Chandler has always been the pinnacle, and no one else comes close. His turn of phrase and perception of life is unmatched. I read Hammett’s Red Harvest and thought, “eh.” Red Harvest was an okay book but not in the same league as Chandler. With, The Thin Man Hammett uses a different style than Red Harvest. His prose is more economic, and he does a great job displaying character through dialogue which is what I prefer. This book runs very quickly and reminded me so much of the movie, I couldn’t help but hear and see William Powell and Myrna Loy while reading this book. Hammett moved way up on my list and I intend on reading all the Thin Man series and sample other Hammett books.
David Putnam author of The Bruno Johnson Series.
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.5k followers
July 7, 2023
The Thin Man is a (sort of, but not really very) noir mystery novel 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 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.”

Hammett is most famous for being just so damned clever, and especially with dialogue. He keeps the jokes coming, and it is entertaining. Now if you like your noir truly scary and brutal, read Jim Thompson or decades later, Richard Stark’s Parker series. No laughs, but lots of terrific writing. And better stories. This one is light-hearted, and he doesn’t really care much about the story, so I am not even going to talk much about it. The novel could be plotted in this way:

Part One: Nick and Nora drink heavily and tell jokes about how Nick got out of the detective business to marry rich Nora, and so on.

Part two: They solve a crime featuring a dizzy blond (are there ever dizzy brunettes? Sure, but the blonds are the ones that have the most fun, apparently). She sets the standard for a beautiful babe who is a chronic liar throughout. I just reread it and I already can hardly remember what happens or how they solve it, but there is some brutality, since it is noir, but in

Part Three: Nick and Nora begin drinking “like a fish,” as they say, again.

Reminded me of the days when lovable drunks were a regular feature in literature and tv such as Crazy Guggenheim on Red Skelton:


Or Dudley Moore in 10:


Finally: Hammett is a terrific writer of dialogue. A clip from the movie, which I recommend seeing after the book.


4.5 stars. 5 for creating the screwball detective duo Nick and Nora and the goofy girl and the dialogue and 2 stars for the story, which is sort of not what Hammett seemed to care about here. Ah, give me a drink, I had fun.
Profile Image for J.L.   Sutton.
666 reviews927 followers
December 11, 2019
Image result for the thin man quotes

In Dashiell Hammett's The Thin Man, the relationship of Nick Charles and his wife Nora makes this stand out from other traditional noire-detective novels. While Nick has many of the same Sam Spadish qualities as other detectives in the genre, he actually listens to and values the opinion of his wife (even if his language is sometimes patronizing). Their banter also shows the tough guy personae on display when he interrogates suspects is not how he really lives, but how he does his job. I'm not claiming this is groundbreaking, but it is still refreshing in this genre.

Overall, I enjoyed the read! As an aside: I would like to be able to get as much done as Nick Charles does after so many drinks! I'm not sure I would even be able to find my way home! 3.5 stars
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
3,005 reviews10.6k followers
September 27, 2013
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.

Nick Charles, former detective, is quite a character. He's smart, sharp witted, and he likes the sauce. He's such a raging alcoholic that Matthew Scudder and Nick Stefanos once staged an intervention for him BEFORE they got off the sauce. "Nick, we like week-long benders as much as the next guy but you might have a problem..."

His wife, Nora, sticks by her man, even if he probably smells like a distillery most of the time due to all the alcohol he consumes. The one-liners each of them fire off are infinitely more interesting than the plot. I'm pretty sure the plot is only here for Nick and Nora to bounce lines around and give them something to do between drinks.

The writing is top notch for the era as well. As always, once I forgave Hammett for not being Raymond Chandler, it was off to the races. Quotable lines abound:
“Nora: "How do you feel?"
Nick: "Terrible. I must've gone to bed sober.”

“Nick: "Don't you think maybe a drink would help you to sleep?"
Nora: "No, thanks."
Nick: "Maybe it would if I took one.”

The plot was suitably serpentine and the interplay between Nick and Nora kept me engaged throughout. The rapid-fire dialogue was by far my favorite part of the book. Didn't Nick and Nora's dynamic in The Thin Man inspire J.D. Robb's In Death series? It's a shame Hammett didn't write more Nick and Nora books. Four stars.
Profile Image for Jason Koivu.
Author 7 books1,256 followers
October 24, 2014
"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 form of murder for money, and Charles' old friends are all wrapped up in it.

The plot unfolds essentially in three places: at the Charles', at their friends', and at a speakeasy...each place being as well stocked with liquor as the next. Other than drinking, they don't do much of anything. And they don't really go anywhere, unless it's someplace to drink. They hang around and tie one on while they try to figure out whodunnit.

The writing is solid, the plot feels sound, the characters are a little dramatic (don't get me started on the women...these dames is batty!), but once all that's in motion, the book as a whole feels static. And then Hammett pulled a Melville...

At least Herman Melville was writing a novel about whales when he inserted that non-fiction book-sized treatise on the whale species. Yes, it took the reader right out of the story for a damn long time, but subjects were related. Hammett goes into great detail in a long passage on the Packer cannibal case of 1873-74. Was it necessary? Intrinsic to the plot? Or was it tossed in for its shock value? A bit of sensationalism to spice up a book that was getting a tad boring? Either way, the aside is overlong by a LONG SHOT.

Dashiell Hammett, author of The Maltese Falcon pretty much invented this genre, so perhaps I should lay off. But I'm not always one to treat revered things precious-like...just the stuff that's precious to me...so I'm docking this a star for Hammett's ol' slight of hand writer's trick. Otherwise it's not a bad little book.

Profile Image for Grace Tjan.
187 reviews506 followers
February 4, 2011
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 situation.

4. Women do not really mind being knocked out for such reasons by their loving spouses. She would mildly protest, but would quickly forget it over a few drinks.

5. “Feminine brain-storms” cause hysteria in women. Italians and other foreigners are also prone to hysterics.

6. A Scotch and soda is a panacea for insomnia, and taken first thing in the morning before breakfast, would keep you awake during the day. Having up to 5 or 6 drinks a day would not keep you from being a brilliant dick.

7. Policemen’s liquor is no good. Never partake of any, even though it’s terribly tempting.

8. A dame “with hair on her chest” is admirable.

9. Women’s intuition is not to be belittled, even though they are prone to hysterics.

10. Flirtatious banter, directed at any receptive female, would get a man out of any number of tight situations.

Other Random Observations

Number of dead bodies: 3

Number of alcoholic drink consumed by the protagonist: 21

Number of cute canine interludes: 8

Number of un-PC racial epithet: 1

Number of incident of spousal abuse by the protagonist: 1


I expected this to be a shining example of the 1930’s noir/screwball comedy, starring an amusing, bantering couple, hard-drinkin’ tough guys and smoky-eyed femme fatales. It certainly delivers some of these elements in generous portions. However, the banter is only mildly amusing, and the twist ending is achieved through the concealment of certain crucial facts from the reader --- not my preferred kind of mystery writing. There is some social commentary, although nothing overt, considering that Hammett was a Communist; and a perfectly adequate, if rather bland, description of the seedier underbelly of Prohibition era New York City. Raymond Chandler, with his vivid similes, deliciously quotable dialogue and atmospheric evocation of LA seems to be the superior noir writer.
Profile Image for Francesc.
459 reviews221 followers
August 16, 2020
Fantástica novela de Hammett con la pareja Nora y Nick Charles.

Fantastic novel of Hammett with the couple Nora and Nick Charles.
Profile Image for Daren.
1,328 reviews4,398 followers
August 10, 2023
A quick, fun read from Dashiell Hammett, featuring retired (early, he's only 41!) former private detective Nick Charles and his wife Nora, who are passing through New York and get roped into a murder investigation.

A former client is the suspect, the scientist inventor Wynant (consider odd at best, mad more likely) in the murder of his assistant and former lover, and his lawyer is the go between trying to convince Nick to investigate. This seems likely to get in the way of Nick's drinking and socialising, but even his wife is keen to see him work. Added to the mix are Wynant's compulsive liar ex-wife with her new husband, her grown up children (by Wynant) all with a mixture of games to add to the confusion.

As well as his history with the local thugs, the police are keen to work with rather than against Nick, and so he works between all these people to try and get to the bottom of things - despite never taking the case...

There are plenty of twists and turns int this short (189 page) novel which doesn't unravel much until the 4th or 5th page from the end. It is written in an engaging style, almost fully as dialogue with very little description - although this gets a bit strained when Nick returns from somewhere and has to explain everything to Nora just to get the information to the reader. Published in 1933 it also contains plenty of period expressions and slang that weren't immediately understood, but the meanings of which became apparent quickly enough.

I probably enjoyed this more than the other Hammett books I have read to date, but I am aware there is plenty more to come as I have only read one of his big four.

High 4 stars from me.
Profile Image for Algernon (Darth Anyan).
1,529 reviews979 followers
December 25, 2015

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 1930's screwball comedy.

Nick Charles is a former private detective who gave up on his profession after marrying rich socialite Nora. He's now returning for the Holiday Season to New York, where he plans to play the stockmarket like a boss, enjoy the nightlife and be pleasantly drunk from the moment he wakes (after noon preferably) to the moment he goes to sleep (preferably in the early morning hours). Nora and their pet dog Asta are willing partners in the plan, their apartment door always open to old friends and former enemies of Nick and the cocktail glasses are never empty.

Pretty soon, these old friends are all pressuring Nick, some at gunpoint, to investigate the dissapearance of one of his former clients : the thin man from the title. Clyde Wynant is an elderly, cranky and eccentric inventor who managed to alienate all his relations and business partners, providing an exceedingly large list of suspects : his secretary/mistress, his former wife, his young and alluring daughter, his morbid teenage son, his ex-wife's new husband, his lawyer, a disgruntled former business asociate, his mistress' gangster boyfriend, an ex-convict that now runs a speakeasy, a police informer also interested in the secretary, and so on ... Some of them turn up dead as the investigation unfolds. Nick does his best to try to stay out of it, but Nora is thrilled by the more dangerous aspects of her husbands former lifestyle. The denouement is closer to Hercule Poirot than to Sam Spade, but very satisfying, despite the fact that I was already aware of the identity of the criminal after watching the movie several times.

The dialogue is lively and often caustic, with the easy banter between Nick and Nora nicely balancing the less savoury aspects of the suspects venal actions. The novel is actually painted in darker shades, boiled harder and more cynical than its famous movie adaptation. The exuberance of the detective couple actually serves to deepen the black shadows cast by the characters fighting over the Wynant fortune. There's a world of crooks and liars, sharks and femmes fatales outside the Nick and Nora penthouse apartment, reminding us that Hammett is rightly famous for less comedic offerings:

I don't like crooks. And if I did like 'em, I wouldn't like crooks that are stool pigeons. And if I did like crooks that are stool pigeons, I still wouldn't like you. is just one of the memorable quotes in the novel. (I had more, but my phone decided to lose them and all my bookmarks unexpectedly)

As a conclusion, if I would be asked to choose between the two versions, I would pick the movie as my favorite : William Powell and Myrna Loy are perfect in their roles as Nick and Nora, often improvising much funnier repartees and moments of physical comedy than those found in the source material. And the dog playing Asta merits an Oscar of her own. The supporting cast is excellent, the black and white cinematography crisp and elegant - I really don't see the need for a remake, despite being a fan of Johnny Depp.

thin man gag

The final remark of Nick at the end of the case : All this excitement has put us behind in our drinking.

And a Merry Christmas to all Goodreaders.
Profile Image for Joe Valdez.
499 reviews855 followers
August 14, 2020
As research for a novel I'm writing, I'm reading detective fiction and ripping off everything of value. My story takes place in L.A. of the early '90s, but I'm traveling to all eras and hiring all manner of private eyes to serve as tour guide. Next up is The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett. When you catch yourself in the mirror looking like Cameron Frye in Ferris Bueller's Day Off in a fit of paralysis by analysis, except over whether to finish a book, I think the answer there is "no." I abandoned this one at the 20% mark, but will offer my reasons for not giving a one-star rating.

Published in December, 1933.

Nick ... and Nora Charles are a couple of dazzling urbanites celebrating the repeal of Prohibition and making up for lost time. Nick used to be a private detective. There's a murder among their social network and everyone is intent on Nick solving the crime. They have a cute Schnauzer named Asta. It's unclear whether Nora or Asta do anything more than look cute and occasionally pester the man of the house.

I haven't seen a frame of the popular film series starring William Powell and Myrna Loy, but the novel reads like a novelization of a 1930s movie. Scenes begin with someone entering a room, end when they exit and then pick up in another room, all shot on the MGM soundstages. Artifice is thick. The characters behave like characters acting in a photoplay. There's no danger that something major could occur. The story is all froth.

Two things I'm stealing from Dashiell Hammett, however:

I liked how everywhere Nick Charles goes, people ask him if he's Nick Charles the Famous Detective. The poor chap just wants to get lit but the next thing he knows, some friend of a friend is confiding some insignificant problem they feel warrants detecting. It reminds me of how people behave when they encounter a physician, or an editor. They can't resist sharing some minor ailment bothering their mother or pitch their manuscript for Bridget Jones's Diary meets Anna Karenina. All free of charge, of course.

While Hammett is much less specific about the spirits his characters imbibe or their preparation than I expected, I was reminded how characters often do have a favorite drink and how that detail becomes part of their character. I selected a Tequila Sunrise for my detective, who attended art school on the West Coast of the 1970s. As a sufferer of social anxiety, she'd never turn down a cocktail when offered one and a Tequila Sunrise is pretty easy to make. As an artist, the aesthetic delight of how a beverage looks would be important to her.

So, here's to you, Mr. Hammett. Your book really wasn't for me in the year 2020, but I did become a better writer after reading one-fifth of yours.
Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,217 reviews9,902 followers
November 2, 2017
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 is graced with genius where Hammett’s prose is graced with deadlines.


Everyone comments on the insane amount of drinking that is detailed on every page here. Even the dog drinks manhattans. Take out all the references to hooch in The Thin Man and it would be 70 pages shorter, easy. So that was kind of silly and then irksome and then really irritating in a harrumph! kind of way.


They’ll tell you that Nick and Nora, our charming lushes, later to die of cirrhosis of the liver at the age of 55 and 46 respectively, are possessed of this witty banter. But you know, not that witty. The witty is all in the movie.


Dorothy patted the dog’s head and left us. We found a table. Nora said : “She’s pretty.”
“If you like ‘em like that.”
She grinned at me : “You got types?”
“Only you, darling... lanky brunettes with wicked jaws.”
“And how about the redhead you wandered off with at the Quinn’s last night?”
“That’s silly,” I said. “She just wanted to show me some French etchings.”


Nora (referring to Dorothy): Pretty girl.

Nick: If you like 'em like that.

Nora (grinning at him) : You got types?

Nick : Only you, darling... lanky brunettes with wicked jaws.

Nora : Who is she?

Nick : I was hoping I wouldn't have to tell you. Dorothy is really my daughter. You see, it was Spring in Venice, and I was so young. I didn't know what I was doing. We were all like that on my father's side.

Nora : By the way, how is your father's side?

Nick : Much better, thanks.

Nora : How many drinks have you had?

Nick : Six Martinis.

Nora (to the waiter, ordering) : Six Martinis. (then to Nick)You're not going to have anything on me.


Then there was the plot. I couldn’t muster up the energy to wonder who clobbered Dr Plum in the library with the blunt instrument.


So in answer to the question what could possibly go wrong, sort of everything did all at once.
Profile Image for Madeline.
781 reviews47.2k followers
January 14, 2011
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 30's mystery full of crazy dames and shooting and goons and coppers, and the characters drink so much it made my liver hurt just reading about it. Like The Maltese Falcon, it got to a point where I had to just accept that I had no idea what any of the characters were talking about and try to go with the flow until someone explained everything at the end. They mystery itself (it includes a string of murders and a suspiciously-absent man) was engrossing, although I guessed the big twist a few pages before it happened.

Having looked up the movie version of The Thin Man on IMDB, I've added it to my Netflix queue and intend to make a comparison as soon as possible - if the IMDB quotes are any indication, the movie version looks much funnier than the book. Stand by for further information as soon as I watch it.

PS: I just noticed one of the options at the bottom of the review box, next to the spoiler button - "Does this book follow a few characters or many?" Who the fuck cares, Goodreads? If I think it's that important, I'll mention it in the actual review. Jesus.

UPDATE, AFTER WATCHING THE FILM VERSION: I'm now putting this on my "The Movie Is Better" shelf, because as I predicted, the movie is much funnier. William Powell and Myrna Loy are darling as Nick and Nora, Mimi is appropriately crazy (although in the movie there's never any doubt about whether she killed Julia, because we actually see her find the body), Gilbert is adorable, and Nora has an absolutely fabulous collection of outfits. Watch the movie, and read the book only if you're really curious about the little changes they made in the screenplay.
Profile Image for Nicholas Karpuk.
Author 4 books65 followers
September 29, 2008
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 mystery. He wants to drink, and have fun, and quite specifically not get answers. The trouble is that people he's acquainted with keep showing up, because apparently he's the right man for the job when a woman shows up dead.

Dashiel Hammet is a good man to read if you want to study fun dialogue. Nick and Nora engage in the sort of banter that we normal people wish we were having. His stalwart refusal to tell anyone exactly what he may or may not know leads to lots of enjoyable circuitous dialogue in which people keep pressing him for information.

There are some real hallmarks of the era in this book. For starters, the aforementioned sexism, which fortunately is counter-balanced by Nora, who's actually a surprisingly progressive character. She tags along through most of the investigation providing sass and observations, and it made me wish more detectives had such classy accompaniment.

What really took me by surprise was the odd sophistication of it. Most of the story is about conversations, and it really is a study of manners and class as Charles goes between well-off families in nice rooms to thugs and goons in run down apartments and speakeasies. It's a well rounded perspective on the city life of the area.

The drinking is also amusing. By any normal standard most of the characters would be drunk through most of the story. I think it may have been fantasy at the time, since the book was released not long before prohibition was ended, and people wanted to read about rich people getting plastered in nice hotel rooms.

Here's a game you can play at home while reading: Take a shot every time a character in the book takes a drink. See how long it takes you before you experience alcohol poisoning.
Profile Image for Brandon.
914 reviews235 followers
January 5, 2015
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-destroying disease that it is today. Seriously, I have no idea how Nick Charles was even standing at points let alone aware enough to piece together clues and solve a murder mystery.

It goes without saying how tremendous a character his wife Nora is as the author makes her just as important a character as Nick. She exists in an era that I do not imagine had many strong female protagonists. Outside of the two main attractions, the cast is filled with characters with their personalities turned up to eleven. Don’t get me started on the always hysterical Dorothy.

While I didn’t like this as much as Hammett’s classic Sam Spade novel The Maltese Falcon, it was still a fun, whodunnit featuring hilariously witty dialogue along with two memorable leads. While Hammett is considered the Godfather to all hard-boiled fiction, Chandler certainly perfected it with his Philip Marlowe series.

Also posted @ Every Read Thing.
Profile Image for Kathleen.
Author 1 book165 followers
May 8, 2020
Hmm. No noir here. The book leans more toward humor than any darkness, but it isn’t as funny as the movie.

No surprise this wasn’t for me, because I am clearly missing the murder-mystery-lover gene. I’ve tried, but I just don’t enjoy working out the puzzle.

Speaking of puzzles, I did enjoy Nora’s character and wish she’d played a bigger role in the story.

“Nora was eating a piece of cold duck with one hand and working on a jig-saw puzzle with the other when I got home. ‘I thought you’d gone to live with her,’ she said. ‘You used to be a detective: find me a brownish piece shaped something like a snail with a long neck.’”

(If there were more lines like this, I might have enjoyed it, but—alas—just this one.)

It was a pretty good who-done-it, but I was hoping for something more. Whadya know--it turns out rich people drinking excessively isn’t very interesting.
Profile Image for Kevin.
523 reviews108 followers
November 5, 2022
Okay, maybe this is just the orange juice (vodka) talking but the whole cannibalism tangent near the beginning was just weird—yes, it’s fascinating, but still weird. Imagine a Billy Wilder film noir feature (e.g. Sunset Boulevard) with eight minutes of Dario Argento (e.g. Suspiria) inexplicably spliced in. Yes we all enjoyed the excursion, but it had no earthly connection to the plot. None. Nada. Zilch. WTF Hammett??

“So Charles pulls down a volume from the shelf, and has the boy read a section about Alfred Packer, who may or may not have killed and eaten his companions in the Rockies in 1873… And then the plot resumes and everyone goes on, and no mention of it was ever made again, and I'm left asking - what was THAT all about?” ~Jeff Grubb, The Cannibal and the Thin Man, 2012

“The murders in the book aren't too descriptive, particularly in comparison with today's standards… It is the four page story about cannibalism in the United States that Wynant's son Gilbert reads that pushes the violence into the moderate zone. Why Hammett felt this part was important to the story plot I'll never know…” ~Sara M., Library Hospital, 2009

NOTE: This cannibal conundrum is mostly tongue-in-cheek (pun intended).
Profile Image for James.
430 reviews
November 23, 2017
'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.
Profile Image for Ian "Marvin" Graye.
874 reviews2,265 followers
September 9, 2022

Dialogical Materialism

This murder mystery is set in a 1932 Manhattan where the characters are superficial, materialistic and dissolute.

90% of the book is conveyed by dialogue. Apart from committing or solving crimes, nobody seems to do much other than drink, flirt and wise-crack. We don't get any special insight into the inner lives of the characters, except from their dialogue or behaviour, as they're described in conversation.

The men are "busy chasing everything hot and hollow." The wealth that funds everybody's lifestyle seems to be either inherited from their family or won from their former spouse(s).

Facsimile Dust Jacket Source:

Character Analysis

Most characters are described succinctly in terms of their age, height and appearance. Here is a selective dramatis personae that displays Hammett's writing style:

Nick Charles (family name, Charalambides): not the thin man; early 40's, tall, bulky, ex-private detective, serial womaniser, now married to Nora:

Nick: "I was hoping I wouldn't have to tell you. Dorothy is really my daughter. I didn't know what I was doing, Nora. It was spring in Venice and I was so young and there was a moon over the..."

Nora: "You're a Greek louse."

Nora Charles: a wealthy socialite, aged 26, enjoys a drink (or many), and has a wandering eye:

A comment on another guest, on leaving a party: "God, he's a handsome guy..."

"I love you, Nicky, because you smell nice and know such fascinating people."

Nick: "[You're my type -] a lanky brunette with [a] wicked jaw."

"Let's go to Max's: I'd like some snails." (Presumably not Max's Kansas City.)

"Now let's drink." (A good way to punctuate any moment.)

"This excitement has put us behind in our drink." (Upon being distracted from the main action.)

Nora (upon waking): "[I feel] terrible. I must've gone to bed sober."

Clyde Wynant: engineer, inventor, the thin man:

Nick: "Tall - over six feet - and one of the thinnest men I've ever seen. He must be about fifty now, and his hair was almost white when I knew him [eight years ago]..."

"A good guy, but screwy."

Mimi Jorgensen: Wynant's ex-wife, a schemer, mother of Dorothy, and married to a former gigolo:

Nick: "[she] used to be very good-looking."

Dorothy: "That's Mamma - divorces a lunatic and marries a gigolo."

Nick: "She put a hand on my knee and her pointed nails dug into my flesh."

Dorothy Wynant: Wynant's daughter, twenty:

Nick: "I carried her into the bedroom and helped Nora undress her. She had a beautiful little body."

Nora: "She's only a child, Nick."

Mimi: "My daughter's in love with you...and she's jealous of me."

Dorothy: "I want to leave when you and Nora do." Nick: "You won't be here for breakfast."

Herbert Macauley: Wynant's lawyer:

Nick: "rather good-looking chap of about my age - forty-one - though he looked younger."

"He's Wynant's lawyer. There's no reason why you should trust him."

Psychoanalysis/Psychiatry and Literature

Nick Charles quotes a friend about the influence of psychiatry on literature:

"Tip (Leda Edge) once told me that she did not think any literature of twenty years ago [circa 1910] would live, because it had no psychiatry in it."

I recall a comment denigrating the influence of psychology or psychoanalysis on literature (and life, or was it attorneys?) in Lillian Hellmann's "Pentimento". I'll try to track it down.


"The Thin Man" [Trailer]

At the end of the trailer, Nick Charles steps into the book, looking for a solution to the crime in the film.
Profile Image for T.D. Whittle.
Author 3 books190 followers
September 12, 2018
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
Profile Image for Kushagri.
59 reviews
March 14, 2023
Witty. Funny. Captivating.

It was a light and entertaining read, no doubt. The plot and mystery were pretty easy to follow. It was not like a literary journey, which I didn’t even expect it to be. Though it lives up to what it aimed to deliver, which is a pure detective fiction.

A great candidate for a fast paced escapist read.

The witty banter and humor were it’s USP.
Profile Image for RJ - Slayer of Trolls.
807 reviews191 followers
April 3, 2022
Based somewhat on the author's relationship with fellow left-leaning writer Lillian Hellman, The Thin Man involves a retired detective, Nick Charles, and his filthy rich, and of course lovely, heiress wife Nora who sleep until noon, drink excessively, and spend an uncomfortable amount of time hanging out with his ex-girlfriend's teenage daughter. Oh, and they also solve a murder mystery. Hammett's final novel is not his strongest but has enjoyed tremendous popularity throughout the years - despite Hammett spending time in jail and being subsequently blacklisted in the 1950s for "un-American activities" - due mostly perhaps to the witty banter between Nick and Nora which inspired a Depression-Era film series as well as a later TV series.
Profile Image for Kirk.
Author 40 books221 followers
November 10, 2011
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 short for him). And those lost bearings are evident pretty much on every page. For starters, the plot isn't all that thrillsville, especially not compared to RED HARVEST or THE GLASS KEY. For a guy who made it a point to do away with the Sherlock Holmes/drawing room villain-unveiling that was a mainstay of the British Golden Era (as well as S.S. Van Dine, etc), Nick and Nora's final dinner party seems snipped straight from Agatha Christie. Also the book isn't anywhere near as hardboiled as the other novels, probably because Hammett was writing about a happily married man with a rich wife and therefore nothing to be disillusioned about. But that lack of beefstake points to a major flaw: Hammett doesn't really know what to do with Nora in here, except to have her take the dog Asta for a walk. She's pretty much a cipher, nowhere as near as lively or vivacious as Myrna Loy.

The real sogginess here, though, is the booze. As many critics have noted, you'd be hard-pressed to find a "classic" novel where the drinks flow this constantly. Seriously, by page 20 my blood alcohol was edging toward Rick Perry territory. My wife took my keys away from me by Chapter 8. By the denouement I was so blotto I not only let Snooki take me home but found her sorta cute, too. This isn't a Lost Territory sort of drunkenness, either. No Jake Barnes lamenting the loss of moral rigor while surrounded by rummies, no Geoffrey Firmin going off all Vesuvius-like in great bursts of dipsomania grandiloquence. This is pure being-drunky-skunky-is-fun drunkenness. Dean Martin might have commended the verisimilitude, but for readers who can't pop a second beer without warnings about alcoholism flashing in the distillery of their minds, it's probably presented a little too glibly to take comfortably.

That said, Hammett hits a home run in at least one influential way. With Nick and Nora he created the prototype of the wisecracking husband-and-wife detective team, one that will be ripped off endlessly in years to come in Hart to Hart, etc etc. The charm of the book is how un-threatened the Charles's marriage is by the venality of modern life. Hell, Nick can even wrestle a femme fatale to the ground and his wife's first response will be to ask if the tussle gave him a stiffie. (His answer: "Oh, a little"---come on, man! have confidence!). Even if Nora is only around to solve the mystery of her husband's tumescence, the repartee is the book's genius, and the tale is best enjoyed for it rather than any thrill or hardboiled sting.

The original cover of the book featured a picture of Hammett in his usual natty attire:
It's a pretty good indicative of his fame at the time but also how trapped he was in the image he'd created for his writing. Most folks who read the book for the first time are surprised Nick isn't the titular character in all his svelte fashion stylin'. Instead, the thin man is a rather soupy victim we never really care about. And the book lacks for a major villain as interesting as Joel Cairo or that fat bastard Gutman (!) in THE MALTESE FALCON. The movie follows the plot and actually to my thinking works better. Still, THIN is an entertaining diversion if you can keep sober til the end. Hammett certainly couldn't.
Profile Image for Sarah.
Author 4 books605 followers
September 11, 2007
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 trying to read something outloud to Ben. As in the protagonists, Nick and Nora Charles, have the most wonderful, fun, and loving time ever while they solve murders together. I'm talking about more drinking, more intrigue, more mysertious dames, and more witty dialogue than all of his other works put together.

Of course, these were my thoughts before reading the detailed chronology/short biography of Hammett in the back of the book. Surely, I thought while reading the novel, much of the humor comes from the ABSURD number of martinis, affairs, suspects, and drama that clutters every page. But after reading about Dashiell Hammett's life, it seems like this might have been his most realistic novel.

His chronology includes, in between novel releases and movie adaptations, such phrases as "1931: drinks heavily and has many affairs." "1920: serves as Pinkerton Operative." "1947: moves in with daughter Mary Jane; both drink heavily." "1953: Questioned by Senator McCarthy about donating royalties to the Communist Party." "1932: Found guilty of battery and rape of actress Elise De Vianne." "1934: Signs contract with MGM in october for a second movie in the Thin Man series. Drinks heavily."

This chronology goes on for TEN PAGES and includes more affairs, benders, posh apartments, debt collectors, trials, political intrigue, and detective work than in an entire season of Law & Order.

It made me see the book a bit differently - to appreciate it even more, really. For Hammett to treat these subjects lightly - subjects that were at the very time tearing his life and career apart - give the book the feeling of a fantasy - a sort of fairy tale noir. As if Nick and Nora Charles live in a parallel universe where "cutting the phlegm" with a few whiskys in the morning is okay, where smooth talking can get you out of trouble with creditors and the law, and where bullets always only manage to graze and annoy you.

I like to imagine Hammett - with all of the drama of his life swirling around him - smiling and laughing as he wrote his novel. Just really having a good time. I don't know if that's true or not, but I had a good time reading it.
Profile Image for Ed.
Author 46 books2,694 followers
December 18, 2010
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 probably re-read THIN MAN later on to see how I react to it.
Profile Image for Γιώργος Κατσούλας.
Author 8 books67 followers
December 29, 2018
Για τους λάτρεις του ",ποιος το έκανε" θα είναι ένα αριστούργημα. Τους υπόλοιπους θα τους ξενίσει η απλοϊκή σκηνογραφία , η μέτρια ατμόσφαιρα η απουσία ηθικών διλληματων η παντελής απουσία φιλοσοφικού στοχασμού και η θεατρική δομή των σκηνών. Στα συν είναι η αγωνία από την πρώτη σελίδα οι ανατροπές ο απλός λόγος και η μικρή διάρκεια του. Σημειώστε Χ.
Profile Image for Christine PNW.
712 reviews195 followers
September 17, 2017
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 brother, Gilbert, was identified as being 18, and I can't remember if Dorothy was older or younger than he was by 2 years - so she was either 16, which is super gross, or she was 20, which is marginally less gross.

With respect to Nick, well, he simply didn't feel real to me. He seemed more like a far cooler version of Dashiell Hammett - a man's man, able to drink tall bottles with a single bound, deflecting bullets with the manliness of his manly chest. Too much wish fulfillment, too little substance.

And Nora. Ah, Nora. Gillian Flynn's Cool Girl, a manic pixie dream dame, Prohibition Edition. She didn't exist except as something for men to ogle over. Even her witty banter was performative. With her red hair and her extreme coolness, I never got a sense of what she would be like in a room by herself.

The mystery was meh.

The dog was cute, though.

I can totally understand how this book could've made a beloved movie, because it is so character driven, and the flaws that I couldn't ignore would've been much less apparent in film. I might make an effort to track it down and compare it to the source material.

So, I'm not sorry I read it, but I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as I enjoyed The Bride Wore Black.
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