The Maltese Falcon

3 out of 5 stars

It had begun like a normal day, but when the charming Miss Wonderly appears in his office asking him to follow someone called Floyd Thursby. He lets his partner Miles Archer do this one and it seems straightforward. Turns out that it isn’t going to be easy when Thursby and Archer turn up dead shortly after and the police are there sniffing around for evidence.

A scared Miss Wonderly appears shortly after and begs him to help her. Turns out she is not who she said she was and the two men died because of the missing Maltese Falcon. Others are interested in this too, and Spade is visited by Joel Cairo wh offers him a large sum to find it, before threatening him and searching his office. More armed hoodlums appear, Casper Gutman and Wilmer Cook who are desperate to find this falcon too. As the intensity builds, someone is going to get hurt and Spade does not want it to be him

I am not normally a crime reader, finding a little predictable often. However, this classic private eye novel that spawned a 1000 imitations and I’d thought that I’d give it a go.  The two main characters are strong and well supported by the minor characters. I really enjoyed the twists and turns that Hammett includes in the plot and the tensions that he builds in the narrative. A short and well-executed book.

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2 Comments

  1. I *just* finished reading this one, and felt much the same – it was formulaic, but fun. I was pleasantly surprised by the complexity of the female characters, given the era in which Hammett was writing; sure, they had to put up with all the usual pat-on-the-bum-“sure-sweetheart-get-us-a-coffee” BS, but they were layered and had agency, which puts The Maltese Falcon streets ahead of a lot of other noir work.

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