Saturday, October 1, 2011

Book Review-The Maltese Falcon (1930) by Dashiell Hammett

I have never seen the the movie version of The Maltese Falcon. Premiering in 1941, The Maltese Falcon is considered one of the greatest film noir/crime movies of all-time. The American Film Institute named it the 23rd greatest movie of all-time in 2007. It was John Huston's directorial debut, and Humphrey Bogart's first major role, starring as detective Sam Spade.

But this post is not about me being remiss in not seeing the movie. It's about the novel the movie is based on, The Maltese Falcon, published in 1930 and written by Dashiell Hammett.

I love independent bookstores. I have mentioned The Book Loft of German Village, located in Columbus, Ohio in past posts. A few weeks ago I was in Columbus on business and decided to run over to the Book Loft to kill some time.

On their discount book table in the courtyard was a paperback version of The Maltese Falcon on sale for $4.99. Of course I had heard of the movie, so I bought it.

This is a pretty amazing book. I was surprised at how compressed the time frame of the action in this novel actually was. Set over just a couple of days in San Francisco, the story revolves around a small statue of a bird and the characters' desire to obtain it.

Sam Spade is a local detective who finds himself in the center of the intrigue. My expectations were that the book would be a classic mystery, with clues revealing themselves as I progressed through the story. No doubt the mystery is there, but I found the book to be as much a morality story, as Sam Spade battles his own foibles to try to maintain his professionalism as a private detective and a human being throughout the story. Dashiell Hammett is successful in this book as he was able to produce a successful crime/mystery novel with characters that are both interesting and intriguing.

And of course, that's why The Maltese Falcon is considered a classic.

 The Maltese FalconThe Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A classic mystery/crime novel that ultimately succeeds as a morality story. My full review:

View all my reviews