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The Maltese Falcon

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  60,073 Ratings  ·  3,054 Reviews
Sam Spade is hired by the fragrant Miss Wonderley to track down her sister, who has eloped with a louse called Floyd Thursby. But Miss Wonderley is in fact the beautiful and treacherous Brigid O'Shaughnessy, and when Spade's partner Miles Archer is shot while on Thursby's trail, Spade finds himself both hunter and hunted: can he track down the jewel-encrusted bird, a treas ...more
Paperback, 213 pages
Published March 1st 2005 by Orion (first published 1930)
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Mike MacDee The only remotely tough thing about reading Hammett's books is he doesn't rely on exposition: the characters suggest their thoughts, histories, and…moreThe only remotely tough thing about reading Hammett's books is he doesn't rely on exposition: the characters suggest their thoughts, histories, and personalities through what they do and what they say, and the reader is never allowed inside their heads. As long as the teen isn't dirt stupid, they won't have any trouble following along.(less)
Rory Really good, the plot moves thick and fast and the characters talk with such vivacity that you just can't help being invested.
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Best Crime & Mystery Books
16th out of 5,379 books — 11,952 voters
The Big Sleep by Raymond ChandlerThe Maltese Falcon by Dashiell HammettThe Long Goodbye by Raymond ChandlerFarewell, My Lovely by Raymond ChandlerThe Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain
Best Hardboiled PI & Noir
2nd out of 522 books — 635 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Apr 12, 2016 Alejandro rated it it was amazing
Shelves: detective, romance, novel, noir
Grippin’ detective tale!


The character of Sam Spade is a good example of how you don’t need many books to make an impact.

Sam Spade is a wide known “synonym” for Private Detective, in fact, you hear his name and the image of a hardboiled man, smoking cigarettes, wearing hat and trench coat, suddenly appears in your mind.

Raymond Chandler admitted that his own character of Philip Marlowe was influenced by Sam Spade.

And that’s a lot to say taking in account that Sam Sp
Look out folks…here comes GREATNESS

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


Sam Spade (played by the legendary Humphrey Bogart) bitch-slapping the manhood out of Joel Cairo (played by Peter Lorre)….and telling him to shut up and take it!! Do I really need to continue the review after that? That is perfection. However, for those tough sells I will continue with my “Why is this book Awesome” thesis.

First, this story IS NOIR. Now there are a lot of wonderful noirs out there, many o
Glenn Russell
Apr 09, 2016 Glenn Russell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Glenn by: .

My top ten reasons why this Dashiell Hammett is one of the greatest crime novels ever written:

1. The Voice – Tough, Crisp hardboiled – the story isn’t told in first-person but certainly has the feel of first-person since we are so close to Sam Spade it’s as if we’re peering over the detective’s shoulder from first to last page.

2. The City – The buildings and streets in San Francisco have such a tangible presence, even today, after nearly 100 years, they still give Maltese Falcon tours.

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

Highly recommend!
Dan Schwent
May 20, 2012 Dan Schwent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
2012 re-read...
Sam Spade's partner is murdered and Sam is determined to find his killer. But what does Miles Archer's murder have to do with the client he was working for or the mysterious Maltese Falcon?

What can I say about one of the Big Two pulp detective novels, the other being The Big Sleep? Well, let's see...

The Maltese Falcon embodies a lot of what made pulp detective fiction great, leading to hordes of imitators. You've got the wise-cracking detective who has a way with the ladies, gunpl
Jan 08, 2009 Werner rated it it was ok
C. S. Lewis once observed that you shouldn't review individual books or stories of a general type that you dislike, because your basic distaste for the genre is apt to blind you to the relative merits of how well the author handles the individual features of his/her work, and how it stacks up against other works of the same sort. When it comes to the whole noir school of detective fiction, that's probably advice I should heed; based both on the little of it that I've read and what I've read abou ...more
Jul 29, 2015 Evgeny rated it really liked it
Welcome to Spade and Archer detective agency. One day a gorgeous woman came in asking to help tracking her sister who ran away with a bad guy. The down payment was good, so the detectives took the case, no questions asked. As the direct result one of the detectives - Sam Spade - got to experience all of the traditional noir fun while readers follow ever-twisting plot.

noir dog

I said it countless times before and I will say it again: Sam Spade is the grandfather of all PIs in all noir, in particular all
Jason Koivu
Aug 26, 2014 Jason Koivu rated it it was amazing
You got nothin' on this book, see?! Yeah! That's right, skedaddle and quick-like!

Private detective Sam Spade smells trouble when a crazy dame walks into his office, and sure enough, his life is soon turned topsy turvy. Spade gets all tangled up in a fishy double murder. The coppers are on him, he's on to the dame and people keep popping outta the woodwork goin' on and on about this g. d. bird! If things keep up like this somebody's gonna get themselves killed dead.

Since the book's publication, t
Mar 25, 2015 Forrest rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Call me an uncultured Cretin (it's true), but I've never seen the movie, so I have nothing to compare it to but the only other classic noir book I've ever read (told you I was a Cretin), Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep. Where Chandler's prose sets a baseline from which he can occasionally spring a trick in the form of a clever turn of phrase, Hammett's prose is as straightforward as it gets, which I saw as a minus. That said, the blandness of the language lets the reader concentrate on plot and ...more
Apr 16, 2016 Lyn rated it really liked it
Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon introduces the world to Sam Spade and established a benchmark upon which a genre – the hard-boiled crime novel – was popularized.

Of his character, Hammett says:
“Spade has no original. He is a dream man in the sense that he is what most of the private detectives I worked with would like to have been and in their cockier moments thought they approached. For your private detective does not — or did not ten years ago when he was my colleague — want to be an eru
Gregor Xane
Mar 22, 2014 Gregor Xane rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
The writing in Hammett's Maltese Falcon seemed to get more fluid as it went along. It started out stilted and choppy. I also wasn't particularly keen on his predilection for cataloging every single item of clothing every character was wearing. Another thing that I found strange was his choice to describe in user-manual detail exactly how, step-by-step, Sam Spade rolls a cigarette. This happened early in the book and killed the forward movement of the narrative for me.

But I read on because I foun
Mar 20, 2016 Apatt rated it really liked it
Anybody who read this book without any prior knowledge of it would probably dismiss it as being full of cliches, archetypes and tropes, they would be dead wrong of course because this is where these tropes originated. The anti-hero, smooth talking P.I., the femme fatale, the plucky Girl Friday secretary, the gay gangster (uh, I'm not sure if this actually caught on) etc.

I don't actually have a lot to say about this book because, while it was moderately enjoyable, it did not do anything above and
Richard Derus
Dec 30, 2012 Richard Derus rated it really liked it
Book Circle Reads 36

Rating: 3.5* of five, because I love the movie more

The Publisher Says: Sam Spade, Dashiell Hammett's archetypally tough San Francisco detective, is morenoirthanL.A. Confidentialand more vulnerable than Raymond Chandler's Marlowe. InThe Maltese Falcon, the best known of Hammett's Sam Spade novels (includingThe Dain CurseandThe Glass Key), Spade is tough enough to bluff the toughest thugs and hold off the police, risking his reputation when a beautiful woman begs for his help,
Here we go. Book number two in my 25 crime-fiction classic list! After finishing this, I probably should've started with this one but honestly, who's going to blame me for reading a Raymond Chandler novel first?

Sam Spade and Miles Archer, private eyes residing in San Fransisco, are hired by a woman to procure the safe return of her little sister after she has run off with another man. While Spade accepts the job, he doesn't completely buy Ms. Wonderly's story feeling that there is more to what s
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
This book is pretty good. Too bad it’s not better known. And it’d be cool if somebody made a decent movie version of it someday...
Nov 09, 2013 Maureen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, novels, noir
there are these big stories, stories that aren't necessarily long but are tremendously meaningful. they carry seeds of big things, of fundamental truths, that whisper to us of some big answer, the kind of answer we might wish for or even dread but don't dare believe. chipping away at the bumpers in the pinball game of our brains, these are ideas that compel us, that make us pause, and consider just what it's all about, and where we fit in. there's a story like that in this book. it's called the ...more
Nov 18, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it liked it
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
Feb 12, 2016 Steve rated it really liked it
Good stuff. I can't believe it's taken me this long to read The Maltese Falcon. I guess part of the problem was the movie. I've seen it a zillion times -- and I'm not necessarily a Falcon junkie. It's a great flick. Bogart and rest of the cast are terrific, and it's fairly faithful to the book. But with that kind of saturation, I found as I attempted to read it the past, that everything in the book seemed too familiar, and I would usually set it down 20 or 30 pages in. And then, just now, along ...more
Larry Bassett
Dec 19, 2013 Larry Bassett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
There is something about reading a book that your Dad could have read when he was a teenager. This is that kind of a book for me. My Dad was born in 1920 and The Maltese Falcon was published in 1930. I am pretty sure that this pulp fiction wasn’t on the bookshelf of his southern Baptist household, but it is the right era.

So what do you do when you run into a book published in the 1930s? You watch the movie with Humphrey Bogart made in the 1940s. What a terrific movie! “She’s a knockout!” If the
Feb 05, 2009 Adam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon is probably the first great hard-boiled P.I. novel. It is not the first detective novel, and Hammett's protagonist, Sam Spade, has his literary progenitors (e.g., C. Auguste Dupin, Sherlock Holmes, Nick Carter, Hercule Poirot), but the "hard-boiled P.I." formula that became so popular in the '30s and '40s (and remains popular today) is perfectly realized in this novel.

Originally serialized in five parts in Black Mask magazine from September 1929 to January 1
Jun 04, 2011 Marvin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery, favorites
I had one minor annoyance in reading this novel. I have seen the movie and I simply cannot get the voices of the actors out of my mind, especially those of Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Humphrey Bogart. It doesn't help that the dialogue of the film is almost totally out of the book. In spite of that, The Maltese Falcon is a hard-boiled delight from beginning to end. It doesn't matter that all the characters are louses, including the charismatic but hardened Sam Spade. It reeks of grittine ...more
Feb 22, 2014 Laura rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Insomniacs and misogynists
I love detective fiction. This was a horrible, horrible book. I can think of no redeeming qualities in it to recommend it to a single soul. Hmm....perhaps if you're suffering from insomnia, and find yourself awake at 3am, and you've already counted a couple of thousand sheep, and you're losing hope of ever seeing Mr. Sandman again? You might consider it.

Or, if you're a weak, ineffectual man who's never had a date in his life, and enjoys acting out his hopelessly unrealized fantasies in which he
Jan 11, 2009 Chloe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ernest Hemingway, Bruce Willis, Hugh Jackman and others plagued with an overabundance of machismo
How does one even begin to review a book enshrouded in so much history, both cinematic and literary, as The Maltese Falcon? At the beginning, natch! This is a story that nearly everyone is familiar with, if only in a passing way. Bogart and Peter Lorre's characters are nearly permanently imprinted in our cultural consciousness.

Fortunately we're talking about books, not films, and all respect to Humphrey Bogart but Hammett's Sam Spade is an oaf. A lumbering buffoon of a detective who seems to be
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
This was a fun little bit of action. The most appealing thing about this book is the glimpse of life in San Francisco eighty years ago. Hammett was very skillful in his descriptions of clothing, accessories, and interior decor, as well as the sartorial affectations of each character. My how things have changed.
I don't know about anyone else, but I found this story rather comedic. A bunch of incompetent ne'er-do-wells chasing each other all over town and every once in awhile somebody gets bumped
J.G. Keely
Nov 19, 2009 J.G. Keely rated it liked it
Despite his small output, Hammett's influence on books is considerable: fast-paced plots wrapped tightly around eccentric characters and tacked up with idiomatic quips. Hammet is capable of drawing the reader in with tone and wit, but then his golden threads unravel.

As often as his simplicity achieves elegance, it can equally grow cumbersome and repetitive. His unpolished tone has a great deal of charm, but to write simply is harder than it seems. For the simple plot to become tight-laced, it mu
Shobhit Sharad
Mar 01, 2016 Shobhit Sharad rated it really liked it
It becomes a little difficult to follow your detective protagonist if the author doesn't let you inside his head.

That is what was happening to me for the first half of the book. The other half, though, was a thrill. As the layers of lies started to peel off the plot, the story became exciting.

Often, in detective fiction, the focus stays on the story and on what happens next, and not much attention is paid to the characters individually. It was not so in this book. Here, the author, while execut
Tiffany Reisz
Feb 29, 2016 Tiffany Reisz rated it it was amazing
They say this is about the greatest crime novel of all time. I can see that. It was published in 1929 and Spade's hanging up his phone on a "prong" and yet...AND YET...if this book came out in 2016 it would still be as much of a page-turner as ever. I love that blond satan, Sam Spade. I want to go back and write in the sex scenes with Brigid.
I have a confession to make: I’ve never seen the movie, “The Maltese Falcon”. I’ve seen enough clips and read enough synopses to know the story, the quotes, the actors and actresses, pretty much everything one can know without actually seeing a movie. I’ll rectify that in the future at some point…
I’ve also never read the book. I know that Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade is one of the most famous detectives from American literature, practically creating and defining the noir genre.

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

What starts as a simple surveillance job becomes a mystery that leads to some dead bodies, that the police are eager to pin on Spade. Spade isn't the man to be played, and he shows his ruthless nature, and keen intelligen
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Also wrote as Peter Collinson, Daghull Hammett, Samuel Dashiell, Mary Jane Hammett

Samuel Dashiell Hammett was an American author of hardboiled detective novels and short stories. Among the enduring characters he created are Sam Spade (The Maltese Falcon), Nick and Nora Charles (The Thin Man), and the Continental Op (Red Harvest and The Dain Curse). In addition to the significant influence his nove
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“He looked rather pleasantly, like a blonde satan.” 71 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.”
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