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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 his help, while knowing that betrayal may deal him a new hand in the next moment.
Spade's partner is murdered on a stakeout; the cops blame him for the killing; a beautiful redhead with a heartbreaking story appears and disappears; grotesque villains demand a payoff he can't provide; and everyone wants a fabulously valuable gold statuette of a falcon, created as tribute for the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV. Who has it? And what will it take to get it back? Spade's solution is as complicated as the motives of the seekers assembled in his hotel room, but the truth can be a cold comfort indeed.
Spade is bigger (and blonder) in the book than in the movie, and his Mephistophelean countenance is by turns seductive and volcanic. Sam knows how to fight, whom to call, how to rifle drawers and secrets without leaving a trace, and just the right way to call a woman "Angel" and convince her that she is. He is the quintessence of intelligent cool, with a wise guy's perfect pitch. If you only know the movie, read the book. If you're riveted by Chinatown or wonder where Robert B. Parker's Spenser gets his comebacks, read the master. --Barbara Schlieper
“Dashiell Hammett . . . is a master of the detective novel, yes, but also one hell of a writer.” –The Boston Globe
“The Maltese Falcon is not only probably the best detective story we have ever read, it is an exceedingly well written novel.” –The Times Literary Supplement (London)
“Hammett’s prose [is] clean and entirely unique. His characters [are] as sharply and economically defined as any in American fiction.” –The New York Times
The story was good. The writing was classic Dashiell Hammett. But this edition was just awful. A cheaper edition said it was full of spelling errors and typos, so I paid a bit... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
You could do much worse than this noir classic. One of the things that always jumps out when you read from the Golden Age of Mystery is the quality of the writing. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Richard Schwindt
The mystery story is a morality tale and the tough guy genre started here. The very title is exotic. Dashiell Hammett was Raymond Chandler's model. Read morePublished on Feb. 3 2004 by Mary E. Sibley
Dashiell Hammett is best known as the man who wrote "Maltese Falcon," the classic noir mystery behind the classic noir film. Read morePublished on Jan. 22 2004 by EA Solinas
What makes a classic? Perhaps that in itself is more of a discussion than is allowed in the Amazon word allotment, so I will limit myself to my personal definition: a classic has... Read morePublished on Oct. 29 2003 by mrliteral
Smoky offices with names on the doors. Femme fatales begging for help. Sinister men in trenchcoats. Mysterious shootings. Read morePublished on Oct. 28 2003 by EA Solinas
This novel remains one of the original masterworks in the genre of American detective fiction-a genre Hammett virtually created single-handedly. Read morePublished on Oct. 19 2003 by Johnny Lee
Several reviewers have said it's impossible not to picture John Huston's cast when reading this novel, even though Humphrey Bogart, for example, doesn't look like the Sam Spade... Read morePublished on Oct. 18 2003 by Fred Wemyss (Actual Name)