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The Maltese Falcon

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  96,981 ratings  ·  5,252 reviews
A coolly glittering gem of detective fiction that has haunted three generations of readers, from one of the greatest mystery writers of all time.

A treasure worth killing for. Sam Spade, a slightly shopworn private eye with his own solitary code of ethics. A perfumed grafter named Joel Cairo, a fat man name Gutman, and Brigid O'Shaughnessy, a beautiful and treacherous woma
Paperback, 217 pages
Published July 17th 1989 by Vintage Crime / Black Lizard (first published 1929)
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Taylor Bullis I read this book in 8th grade as a 14 year old. Unless you are dealing with a very immature batch of teenagers, I would highly reccomend this book!
Greg Yes, Zaira. And you might find, though, that the movie is even better! For me, the plot and various subplots are just overwhelming in the book, but th…moreYes, Zaira. And you might find, though, that the movie is even better! For me, the plot and various subplots are just overwhelming in the book, but the movie streamlines the story, imo.(less)

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Average rating 3.89  · 
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Kevin Kuhn
May 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sam Spade doesn’t need to go looking for trouble, trouble finds him. I found an interesting hardbound version of this novel at a used bookstore and I couldn’t resist it. Dashiell Hammett wrote this story originally as a serial in the magazine Black Mask. It was eventually published as a novel in 1930. Dashiell Hammett was a major influence on the establishment of ‘hard-boiled’ detective fiction and through film adaptations of his stories – film-noir. Humphrey Bogart played Sam Spade in the most ...more
Apr 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Third time reading this one and I swear I just love it more each time
Look out folks…here comes GREATNESS

“When you’re slapped, you’ll take it and like it”
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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
Glenn Russell
Mar 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, classics
Born in 1894 and serving as a sergeant in World War I, Dashiell Hammett used his experiences to become one of the premier detective writers of the first half of the twentieth century. Set in Depression Era San Francisco and introducing the world to Samuel Spade, Hammett's The Maltese Falcon became a detective story that many in the genre still try to measure up to today. A classic that helped change the way writers told detective stories, The Maltese Falcon is a classic case that contains all th ...more
Henry Avila
Sep 09, 2011 rated it liked it
Sam Spade a cynical, tough yet honest San Francisco private eye is having a good day Miss Wonderly , later Leblanc and still later Brigid O'Shaughnessy (what's in a name, a rose by any other name would be confusing), comes into his office. All sophisticated charm and beauty, so she lies a little who doesn't, more important gives Sam and his disliked partner Miles Archer $200 for a job, they could use some cash like most people during hard times. Miss Won...Leb... O'Shaughnessy, her name slips fr ...more
Dec 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This might be the gold standard for hardboiled detective stories.


I mean, Sam Spade. Everyone knows Sam Spade, right?
I still prefer Nick and Nora from The Thin Man, but as popular as those two are, I think Sam is probably considered the quintessential private dick.


So, the gist is that hot shady chick comes slinking in one evening, begging Spade and his partner to help her locate her younger sister, who has taken up with a married man.


You tell her, Spade...

Anyway. This lying client, original
Dan Schwent
Jul 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
J.L.   Sutton
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon. I’d seen the movie; however, this was my first read of Hammett’s iconic detective story. There’s a lot of story to unravel (the history of the Maltese Falcon statue being the most prominent here) and lots of characters with their own motivations and shifting allegiances. Hammett’s novel also introduces the no nonsense detective, Sam Spade. As such, it is one of the precursors of hardboiled detective fiction often associated with noir fiction. I’d ...more
Sanjay Gautam
Aug 04, 2014 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!
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett

The Maltese Falcon is a 1930 detective novel by American writer Dashiell Hammett, originally serialized in the magazine Black Mask beginning with the September 1929 issue.

‘Sam’ Spade is a private detective in San Francisco, in partnership with Miles Archer. The beautiful "Miss Wonderly" hires them to follow Floyd Thursby, who has run off with her sister.

Archer takes the first stint but is found shot dead that night. Thursby is also killed later and Spade is
Aug 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dave Schaafsma
"I'm going to send you over. The chances are you'll get off with life. That means you'll be out again in twenty years. You're an angel. I'll wait for you."

He cleared his throat.

"If they hang you I'll always remember you”—Sam Spade

With 39,000 ratings and almost 4,000 reviews of this book, you don’t need a detailed synopsis and review, but I’ll say it is a great book on so many levels, very entertaining, and if you have never read it, I highly recommend it. It was a pleasure within the same two
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
Nov 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, mystery, audio, classics
5 stars for the audio adaptation
I listened to the full The Hollywood Theater of the Ear full-cast production of The Maltese Falcon, adapted by Yuri Rasovsky.


I think the audio cast was amazing but since it was an adaptation, I didn't get the whole story (so to speak) and I really want to read the book. I love the way Dashiell Hammett writes, so I was disappointed when I realized it wasn't a narrator reading his exact words.
This was completely MY fault (for not reading the description closely en
John Culuris
May 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I once read the following in some TV guide regarding the classic movie adaptation: “The 1941 mystery is the yardstick against which all private-eye films are measured.” It is even more true of the novel. Never before (or since) has a protagonist been forced to look so deeply within himself, to have to explain who he is to so many while not completely understanding why he is that way himself. Sam Spade knows what he has to do, and externally he knows why he has to do it. He acts assuredly, withou ...more
Jan 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1-fiction
Book Review
4 out of 5 stars to The Maltese Falcon, a classic mystery novel written in 1930 by Dashiell Hammett. If you ask a mystery fan when the genre started, a good chunk of them will say during the Golden Age (1920s & 30s) with authors like Dashiell Hammett, specifically with the creation of the Sam Spade character. Immediately what comes to mind is the old-fashioned black-and-white movies with the coat and hat on the detective, the accents and the chase scenes. While these are a
Apr 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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

"I don't mind a reasonable amount of trouble.”

I haven't seen the famous movie version of this book starring a young, dreamy Humphrey Bogart, but now I sure want to.

This 1930's noir beauty set the template for hard-boiled detective stories, paving the way for other writers like Raymond Chandler and James M. Cain.

The action begins when our hero Sam Spade, finds out his partner, Phil Archer is found shot while on a job. The story has all you could ask for: a tough, smart private eye, a gorgeous fe
Jason Koivu
Apr 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Richard Derus
Nov 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 more noir than L.A. Confidential and more vulnerable than Raymond Chandler's Marlowe. In The Maltese Falcon, the best known of Hammett's Sam Spade novels (including The Dain Curse and The 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 h
Glenn Sumi
Quick: Can you remember the plot of The Maltese Falcon?

I read it a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve seen the classic 1941 film noir at least twice. But even I’m hazy on the fine details of the story.

In late 1920s San Francisco, a bunch of people want the priceless titular statue, and will do anything – bribe, steal, frame, kill, and lie their faces off – to get their claws on it.

It’s up to detective Sam Spade to keep various parties in the dark about what the others know. There’s the mysterious wo
In my ever-growing attempt to expand my reading parameters, I turned to my latest reading challenge book. A great fan of detective novels, I was eager to try Dashiell Hammett’s famous novel that depicts sleuthing at its finest. Full of dated references, this is a story that fans of the genre will love, while those who are easily offended will surely be pulling out their hair as they cite sexism on every page. Sam Spade is a decent investigator, who does not take himself too seriously. Miss Wonde ...more
Mar 24, 2015 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
Kevin Shepherd
Apr 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
“I couldn't be fonder of you if you were my own son. But, well, if you lose a son, it’s possible to get another. There's only one Maltese Falcon.”

If Sam Spade wrote reviews...

I was all set to motor back to my flop and squirt out a few lines while everything was still fresh in my melon. But just then I heard a yammering coming from the rumble seat that was making my ears blister. I leaned back to where Brigid O'Shaughnessy had planted herself and shoved my roscoe in her button.

“Listen sister,”
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...
Gregor Xane
Mar 16, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fwhooooooeeeeee..... that last chapter! Incredible!

And, btw, the whole time I've been reading this, Sam's office I've been picturing as that depicted in a Star Trek: TNG episode where Captain Picard plays a holodeck program to relax - a detective noir program that he absolutely loves! It had to have been this, pretty sure it was this, I remember an early scene was someone changing out the name on the outer door :D. I'd never seen nor read The Maltese Falcon, so I wasn't familiar with the detecti
Dec 16, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
This novel is set in 1920's San Francisco and creates the character of Sam Spade, a name now synonymous with crime detective fiction. And Modern Library ranks The Maltese Falcon in it's 100 best novels of the 20th century. One of the remarkable things about the novel is that it's not dated at all. The setting could be 1980 as well as 1929. The cast is small and well defined, and the plot is straight-forward, not complicated. And with Hammett's ability to add exquisite detail, the end result is a ...more
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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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“Joel Cairo: You always have a very smooth explanation ready.
Sam Spade: What do you want me to do, learn to stutter?”
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