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The Glass Key

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  10,508 ratings  ·  510 reviews
Paul Madvig was a cheerfully corrupt ward-heeler who aspired to something better: the daughter of Senator Ralph Bancroft Henry, the heiress to a dynasty of political purebreds. Did he want her badly enough to commit murder? And if Madvig was innocent, which of his dozens of enemies was doing an awfully good job of framing him? Dashiell Hammett's tour de force of detective ...more
Paperback, 214 pages
Published April 18th 2002 by Orion (first published 1931)
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Eugene Kuzmov She hated politics, and was aware of Father trying to use her as a bite for Madwig.

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Average rating 3.95  · 
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Aug 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Behind every successful politician there is a great campaign manager.
Campaign manager
Paul Madvig was a successful politician. His campaign manager (and a close friend) was Ned Beaumont. The latter was the main character of the story, but surprisingly little is revealed about his background through the book. Despite that his character works - but I am getting ahead of myself. Paul Madvig was trying to find a way to the heart of a daughter of a local Senator while doing his best to prevent a romance between his
John Culuris
May 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
★ ★ ★ ★ 1/2

Id read The Glass Key years--maybe decades--ago and I didnt remember any of it. I made the mistake of taking this to mean bad. I felt justified. I remember entire stretches of Red Harvest and The Thin Man. (The Maltese Falcon doesnt count as it is the novel Ive reread more than any other--by a wide margin.) When in a message board review for a different book I grouped The Glass Key among Hammetts lesser works, I was promptly called out on it. I couldnt argue. I didnt want to argue.
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Nov 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017

Believed to have been the victim of a hold-up, Taylor Henry, 26, son of Senator Ralph Bancroft Henry, was found dead in China Street near the corner of Pamela Avenue at a few minutes after 10 o'clock last night [...]
Chief of Police Frederick M. Rainey immediately ordered a wholesale round-up of all suspicious characters in the city and issued a statement to the effect that no stone will be left unturned in his effort to apprehend the murderer or murderers at once.

Published back in 1931 this
Jan 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As many reviewers note, Hammett claimed this book was his favorite, and it's easy to see why. Structurally it's the most cohesive of his five novels. RED HARVEST is great but feels a little serial-y, DAIN CURSE is four stories glommed together, and both MALTESE FALCON and THIN MAN have some rather gaping plot holes that you gotta asphalt over to get to the end. But GLASS KEY feels coherent and cohesive and let's just add crisp to make an alliterative hat trick. Maybe what's most interesting is ...more
Nov 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
If youve never seen 'Millers Crossing', I urge you to without the slightest hesitation do so now! The Coen brothers gangster film is not quite up there with 'The Godfather' or 'Goodfellas', but is a work of genius nevertheless. Its a highly stylised tale of a town ruled by the mob and the relationship of the two men at the centre of it. Both Gabriel Byrne and Albert Finney are superb (indeed, there are no slouches in the entire cast), and the film is packed with fantastic moments which will ...more
Feb 25, 2012 rated it did not like it
This is on The List? Really? I mean, I understand why The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man are on there, because they're great, but as far as I'm concerned there was no reason to include this one as well.

Plainly put, it was dull and confusing. It's more political thriller than detective novel, so if that's your thing you might like this, but any sort of political intrigue drama generally bores me to death unless it's actually a historical political intrigue. There were too many characters
Really found it difficult to warm to this murder mystery. Other reviewers have rated this highly but for this reader it just didn't stand out for the genre..... I'm having difficulty trying to pin point exactly why. Ned Beaumont was an interesting main character although I did have some difficulty investing in some of his actions and thought processes. Listed on the Boxall 1000 list but it just wasn't for me.
Mar 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Reading the The Glass Key it's easy to see why Hammett was revered by Raymond Chandler and so many other hardboiled detective fiction greats of the 30's, 40's and beyond. The plot is smart, tight and doesn't slack for an instant. Hammett imbues characters with depth, giving them hidden desires, conflicting motivations and complex, shifting relationships.

The Glass Key is a murder mystery with deep political undertones, set in a city rife with corruption, crooked politicians and shady characters.
May 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries, noir
Dashiell Hammett's heroes are probably best known for their sang-froid. Take Ned Beaumont of The Glass Key, for instance. He will insert himself into any stramash -- even at the expense of getting himself beaten to a pulp and landing in the hospital. And all is to help his politician friend Paul Madvig, who is running for office while trying to evade a number of highly sticky crimes.

The messes in this novel multiply, until Beaumont finally finds out who killed the senator's hotheaded son and
Mohammed Abdi Osman
I read this for the first time which dosent have the rep of Red Harvest, The Maltese Falcon but i found it to be almost his best, great lead character in Ned Beaumont. It is really a companion piece to Red Harvest because its also set in a small town ruled by corruption and political corruption instead of outright criminal gangs. I like how matter factly Hammett explores a social ill like that one. This time there is no tough PI looking to bring down the ciminals that own the city, the local ...more
Tim Schneider
May 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
This was a re-read. And a relatively recent one at that. Interestingly, I did almost a 180 degree turn on how I felt about the book in a little less than two years. Legend has it that this was Hammett's favorite of the novels he wrote. Now I can see why.

There's little doubt that Hammett not only set the stage, but really invented the hard-boiled detective with The Continental Op and Sam Spade. Yeah, John Carrol Daly was earlier. But he was a dreadful writer. And his work wasn't particularly
Free download available at Faded Page.

A dark roman noir with some hints of political corruption, very close to the actual moment.

4* The Thin Man
5* The Maltese Falcon
3* Nightmare Town
4* Secret Agent X-9
4* Who Killed Bob Teal?
3* Red Harvest
3* The Glass Key
4* Woman in the dark
TR The Continental Op
TR The Return of the Continental Op
TR The Tenth Clew
TR The Dain Curse
TR The Big Knockover: Selected Stories and Short Novels
Oct 18, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, mystery

When are we getting those half-stars, again? I so wanted to give this 3 1/2 stars, simply on the strength of the noir prose. These were the days when men wore hats, women called them louses, everyone drank and smoked all day and goons beat up patsies and called them pals later.

This was extolled to me as one of Hammett's masterpieces, but I found a couple major flaws that I can't explain without issuing a SPOILER ALERT, so be forewarned.

Our protagonist is Ned Beaumont, a jack of all trades
Aug 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This murder mystery follows a gambler's attempt to clear the name of a hopelessly corrupt politician he's allied with, when said politician's accused of murdering the local senator's son. I must say that I can definitely understand both why Hammett himself considered "The Glass Key" his masterpiece *and* why many modern-day readers don't enjoy it as much as for example "Red Harvest".

One of the things I liked best might turn off other readers: None of the characters are very admirable, most are
COUNTDOWN: Mid-20th Century North American Crime
BOOK 126 (of 250)
Halfway through my countdown! I know hundreds of readers out there are on pins and needles so far! My average for the 'bottom' 125 works is 2.55, but goodreads average is 3.70. No surprise, really, as goodreads voted an award to "Go Set a Watchman" (!!!!!). Great that we all have different taste in reading!
"B-b-but..." says a character on the first page. "B-b-but..." says the same character, still on the first page. So I flash
Bryan "They call me the Doge"
The Glass Key is the second of Hammett's novels that I've read, the first being Red Harvest, which I read over thirty years ago. I remember being disappointed, at that time being under the sway of Chandler's Marlowe stories. It will be interesting some day to go back and read Red Harvest, which I plan to do, on its own terms, because I suspect I'll find some of the same things I found here, with The Glass Key, which I could appreciate better than I could back then.

What's really interesting to
Carla Remy
Sep 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I didn't like this as much as "The Dain Curse" and his other novels, but by the end it had a fascination I couldn't deny. The beginning, the set up, was very abrupt, almost to the point of being confusing. But I like abruptness, so I can't really complain. Incredibly well-written of course.
May 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: aere-perennius, 2012
I loved it. I thought Hammett was amazing before, but the Glass Key just solidified it. Definitely his tightest, most coherent novel. The characters were sharp, the pacing was quick, the plot was Goldilocks. No wonder the Coen brothers couldn't get enough.
Alan Livingston
I heard Mr. Hammett claimed this was his favorite novel. I have to believe that was a marketing technique of his, a way to direct sales traffic to this dribble. Perhaps he had no editor, but after reading it, I wonder if he ever read his own draft before publication. Then why did I (round it up and) give it 2 stars? Well, he did write The Maltese Falcon, so I suppose I did so out of respect for that. Plus he sold a lot of more books than I have.

There are too many examples of what I hated about
Dec 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
Ned Beaumont walked across Ned Beaumonts rooms, thinking Ned Beaumonts thoughts. Ned Beaumont lit one of Ned Beaumonts green-speckled cigars and wondered what Ned Beaumont might like to eat for breakfast. ...more
DeAnna Knippling
A reread. I used to think this book was the bee's knees; I'm less impressed with it now. I don't care about the characters anymore and the plot feels thin, so it's down to enjoying the sparse style and quick action, which I did.
May 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-mystery, noir
Perplexing... Such a slow and serpentine plot. The characters are even richer than Maltese, Ned is a more ambiguous character then Spade (who, himself, is one of a kind).
David Allen
Jun 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This isn't Hammett's best-known work -- that would be a toss-up between The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man -- but is this his best? It's possible. The plot is as well-crafted as a watch, and every word, every interaction, sets the scene or moves the plot along or illuminates character. Granted, there's no actual detective involved, but Ned Beaumont does a good imitation.
I loved The Maltese Falcon but never wrote a GR review. The Glass Key is my 2nd Hammett and it was pretty cool. You're dropped into the middle of dialogue in some nameless city amidst its political and criminal elements, perched on the shoulder of Ned Beaumont, a keen mind in the real workings of dirty city politics. He's definitely reminiscent of Sam Spade, but he's not a detective and not quite a lone wolf - he's mostly a loyal partner to Paul Madvig, a somewhat mysterious figure, a bit like ...more
May 11, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, mystery
Ned Beaumont, right hand man of corrupt kingmaker Paul Madvig, discovers the body of a senators son. Paul was backing the senator and loved his daughter, but there becomes reason to believe that he may have killed the son. At first using the death to avenge himself against a bookie who skipped town, he then gets truly embroiled in finding the truth, especially after Pauls rival captures and beats Ned for information about the murder.

This thriller doesnt have the long line of dead men that The
Pamela Mclaren
Mar 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, classics
If you like film noir, such as "LA Confidential," you will definitely like "The Glass Key." From the moment you begin to read, you are set into the mindset of the 40s with a classic mob situation where the boss has bought off the police and the politicians. The main character is gambler and racketeer Ned Beaumont, who discovers the body of a local senator's son whose father is tied to political boss Paul Madvig. He is soon pulled into trying to direct the mounting evidence away from his boss ...more
Sep 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
I remember less about this book than many of Hammett's other ones. But even though the specifics are a bit more hazy, the memory of it being a really good read is not. It's a very dark tale, darker than "The Maltese Falcon" or possibly any of the tales of "The Continetal Op". It digs into the seamiest side of corruption, politics and deviousness. I've read that Hammett considered it his best work and there is a mystery/crime writer's award named after the book. Time for me to read it again I ...more
Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone.
A classic who-done-it with multiple motives and multiple suspects. Good twists throughout the story. Fun to see the development of the work written in the early 1900's. the crime solving and private eye work are so different from today.

Good, quick read.
Aug 17, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. An entertaining crime fiction novel set in an unnamed city in the urban American underworld. The story centres on the friendship between Ned Beaumont and Paul Madvig. Ned is a gambler and racketeer and right hand man of Paul Madvig. Paul is a criminal political boss. Taylor Henry, aged 26, is knocked down and killed, left lying on the street. Taylor owes money and is the son of a well to do politician. Paul Madvig is suspected of being the murderer of Taylor Henry as he was seen near ...more
Steve Schechter
May 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Okay full disclosure: The Glass Key is my favorite book. I chose it for my final review for the #SummerReadingChallenge because it was an opportunity to read it again and cruise to the finish line. It is a decision I stand behind very strongly.

The Glass Key is Dashiell Hammetts fourth novel and its his last great one. Its a masterpiece of taut narrative and brilliant characterization. The title metaphor is one of the finest ever put down in print. Originally published as a serial in Black Mask
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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

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