Nicholas Armstrong's Reviews > The Maltese Falcon

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Jun 25, 2010

it was ok

Hmmmm. Well, I give it credit for what it was. The twists and the turns were fun to run behind and you never did know what was coming next. So it was, at the least, enjoyable. Unfortunately, there is the rest of what the book is.

Spade, for example, is an asshole. There is no part of him that is anything but. He sleeps with married women, whores himself around, and in general acts like a prick to everyone he comes in contact with, even a detective friend of his. It seems silly that he would have any of the connections he does since he is such an unrelenting bastard. Perhaps if he was paying off his sources and allies it would make more sense; as it stands, I suppose I'm to believe all these women swoon for him and all these men line up to die for him because he's handsome and smokes a lot.

Spade isn't the only poor character though. Pretty much the entire cast are caricatures, but I'll give it to Hammett for putting in quirks to make them more real. Wilmer wants to be a tough guy and has a crush on the bosses daughter, Cairo wants the treasure but also wants Wilmer, Gutman wants the treasure and is willing to -- if painfully -- sacrifice a boy like a son to him. These are all very good and I'm happy to see them included because it really does make the characters out to be more than just cutouts. My problem, I suppose, is with their actions and how the story plays out.

The characters are needlessly protective and secretive. Everyone speaks in innuendo or sparsely and it's as if the whole world regards everyone else with shifty eyes. I thought it was a bit silly and probably held up only for secrets sake and to keep the surprises surprising. But, that said, the book took so many sharp right turns I don't think I could have predicted where it was going if I had had evidence. An artifact appearing amidst murders and one man being framed while another is being harassed -- it's all just a little too silly.

This is also the first detective novel I've ever read, and from what I understand a rather famous one, so perhaps that is only why I am surprised by the way things played out. Maybe this is no less silly than any other detective novel and I'm completely wrong. If that is the case, then I would say it's probably very good, even if the main character is an unlikeable wanker.
8 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Maltese Falcon.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

June 25, 2010 – Started Reading
June 25, 2010 – Shelved
June 29, 2010 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Scott (new)

Scott Hey I have a question. Is this book explicit? Moreover, does it have sexually explicit scenes? Thanks!

Nicholas Armstrong Dunno if this answer is still useful since it is about a month late, but no. It was written early enough that that wasn't really a motif of the detective novel yet.

Anne I have to agree with your assessment of Sam. I picked up the book because it was considered a classic detective mystery from the writing books I've been reading.

I just couldn't get into it. At least James Bond had class, but I just don't get the magically appeal he had on women in the book.

message 4: by J A (new) - rated it 3 stars

J A Glad I wasn't alone in finding Spade absolutely loathsome. Give me a Marlowe any day of the week, someone I can give a trace of care about.

back to top