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The Maltese Falcon

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  72,537 Ratings  ·  3,936 Reviews
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 woman whose loyalties shift at the drop of a dime. These are the ingredients of Dashiell Hammett’s coolly glittering gem of detective fiction, a novel ...more
ebook, 224 pages
Published December 29th 2010 by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (first published 1930)
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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!
S. Daisy It's definitely a stand-alone book, so yes. It's nice if you could watch the movie, starring Humphrey Bogart, along with it, but that isn't necessary,…moreIt's definitely a stand-alone book, so yes. It's nice if you could watch the movie, starring Humphrey Bogart, along with it, but that isn't necessary, of course. (less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Stephen
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 ou
...more
Brina
Feb 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, mystery
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
Dan Schwent
Jul 14, 2008 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
...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!
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
Glenn Russell
Mar 20, 2016 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
...more
Werner
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
James
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 all t
...more
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
Evgeny
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
...more
Robin
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

"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
...more
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
...more
Lyn
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
...more
kohey
Jan 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's my BIBLE.
Forrest
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
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
...more
Duane
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
Kemper
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...
Apatt
May 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Gregor Xane
Mar 16, 2014 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
...more
Matthew
Story wise - just so-so for me. It is supposed to be a classic, so I expected more from the story.

But, if you are looking for all the stereotypical hard-boiled detective stuff (dames and all that) this book definitely delivers.
Brandon
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
...more
Stacey
Feb 27, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My expectations of The Maltese Falcon were too high. I love a good hard boiled crime story with a stereotypical detective and a bad girl. Brigid O’Shaughnessy you are a very bad girl. This was a good detective story and the writing was great, but ultimately I felt deflated. I haven't seen the movie so maybe I'll check it out.
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
...more
Madeline
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
...more
Jan Philipzig
Classic hard-boiled detective story from 1929 that feels both cool and passionate, ruthless and righteous, slick and defiant, charming and stubborn, resourceful and gloomy. Here are a few quotes:

--Samuel Spade's jaw was long and bony, his chin a jutting v under the more flexible v of his mouth. His nostrils curved back to make another, smaller, v. His yellow-grey eyes were horizontal. The v motif was picked up again by thickish brows rising outward from twin creases above a hooked nose, and his
...more
Laura
Dec 16, 2009 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
...more
Bonnie Shores
Oct 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
RTC
Gary Inbinder
May 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
“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 erudite solver of riddles in the Sherlock Holmes manner; he wants to be a hard and shifty fellow, able to take care of himself in any situation, able to get the best of anybody he comes in contact with, ...more
Maureen
Nov 07, 2008 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
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1,379 followers
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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More about Dashiell Hammett

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“He looked rather pleasantly, like a blonde satan.” 81 likes
“Joel Cairo: You always have a very smooth explanation ready.
Sam Spade: What do you want me to do, learn to stutter?”
48 likes
More quotes…