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The Maltese Falcon, The Thin Man, Red…

The Maltese Falcon, The Thin Man, Red Harvest (utgåvan 2000)

av Dashiell Hammett (Författare)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
391550,486 (4.09)1
Three novels involving private detectives and shady characters tackle homicide, treachery, and corruption.
Titel:The Maltese Falcon, The Thin Man, Red Harvest
Författare:Dashiell Hammett (Författare)
Info:Everyman's Library (2000), Edition: 1st, 696 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek


The Maltese Falcon, The Thin Man, Red Harvest av Dashiell Hammett


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The Maltese Falcon

Sam Spade may appear as crooked as the bent cops and underworld thugs he faces off against, but he’s got a code: when someone kills your partner, you find the killer and turn them in to the police. No matter who that ends up being. And if a far-fetched intrigue involving jewel-encrusted gold falcons dipped in black enamel comes across your path, you don’t let that distract you from your real goal. Here, a great cast of memorable characters — Joel Cairo, Brigid O’Shaughnessy, Mr Gutman, and Wilmer — are the jewels enlivening this very dark bird. It’s a non-stop hair-raising tour de force from Dashiell Hammett.

What will strike the reader is how closely, almost scene by scene, and word by word of dialogue, the 1941 film version with Humphrey Bogart matches the novel. It’s clear that John Huston, who wrote the screenplay and directed the film, knew a good thing when he found it. Hammett writes with cinematic clarity. There are no wasted scenes and very little introspection that isn’t immediately called into question as deceitful and thus serve as furtherance to the plot. And that plot is so tightly wound it basically runs itself as soon as Hammett lets it loose.

Hugely enjoyable and highly recommended.

The Thin Man

Nick Charles is no longer a detective. He’s retired and, thanks to a profitable marriage to Nora, a well-off man of business. Enough to spend a few weeks over Christmas in a hotel in New York. Enough to drink pretty much incessantly. With Nora pacing him every step of the way. So it’s a bit rich that everyone keeps treating him like he’s still a detective, demanding he solve their problems, catch murderers, find lost ex-husbands and fathers, and generally serve as daddy to a bunch of spoiled and soiled brats. He’d much rather just have another drink.

The sparkling patter of the opening third of this novel fully establishes the character of Nick and Nora. So much so that six movies were made effectively based on just that. They are a delightful pair. Alas, the middle third of the novel is weighted down with longer chapters dumping back story and red herrings. And though the pace of the final third picks up, it never fully recovers the elan of the scenes that focus on Nick and Nora.

Rest assured that the bad guy gets his comeuppance. But otherwise, not fully satisfying, which echoes the last line in the novel which is spoken by Nora, “…it’s all pretty unsatisfactory.” She doesn’t mean it as harsh as it sounds, and neither do I.

Gently recommended.

Red Harvest

When the otherwise unnamed Continental Op arrives in Personville on a job, he thinks he mishears when someone pronounces it, “Poisonville.” But it doesn’t take long for him to discover that poison is exactly what lives there. Almost every single person he encounters is crooked, or worse than crooked. His initial client turns up dead. He converts the job into a more general clean-up scenario playing on the fears of the wealthy father of his dead client. But cleaning up poison usually means flushing the whole site. And that, effectively, is what he sets about doing. He plays one tough guy off against another and so on until, at some point, everyone is gunning for everyone else and mostly the Continental Op is just trying to avoid stray lead.

This was the first hard-bitten novel from Dashiell Hammett. It entirely justifies his reputation. And although it is somewhat hampered by the serial form of its original publication — it came out in four sections which results in curious lulls and renewals when the sections are brought together as a single whole — it is never less than gripping. No wonder the Continental Op is at risk of going blood-simple. Everything in Personville is rotten to the core. He’s no peach himself, but he’s got a kind of code and if he can keep his wits about him, he might just make it through to the end.

Easily recommended. ( )
  RandyMetcalfe | Apr 20, 2020 |
what can you say. Classic ( )
  billyegluck | Jan 22, 2014 |
I read this collection of three short novels by virtue of its inclusion in the list of 100 Essential books in Everyman’s Library. The novels included in this book are The Maltese Falcon, The Thin Man and Red Harvest.

My first impression, upon reading the first 50 pages of The Maltese Falcon, the first novel in the collection was that it contained every stereotype you can imagine in a book involving private eyes, bad guys and damsels in distress. Then it occurred to me: This was the original; the first of what later became a genre. Until this was written, there were no Sam Spades, or cunning molls, or gun wielding gangsters (at least in contemporary fiction). Nevertheless, after an additional 70 years of such stories and treatments, it can’t help but come across as tired and overdone. Also, having seen the movie version, it is impossible to read the book without picturing Humphrey Bogart as the quintessential cigarette smoking, whiskey drinking, bad guy thumping, wise cracking private detective that became the model for all future private detectives. The underlying story is completely secondary to the characters in the novel, from the Peter Lorre portrayed, effeminate, Middle Eastern bad guy (slapped around by Sam Spade, as you might imagine) to the fat, refined Turkish antique collector. I can imagine the sensation that this work caused upon its release over 75 years ago.

The second story, The Thin Man, is of the same Noir genre. Nick Charles, a retired private investigator is unwillingly pulled into a murder investigation. Again, this is very much a character driven work. The adults in this novel seem to drink heavily, around the clock. Waking in the middle of the night to get a drink of whiskey and staying out until the mid-morning hours, frequenting dinner parties and speak easies. Very similar in style and character development to The Maltese Falcon, as is the final book in the trio, Red Harvest.

In Red Harvest, a San Francisco private detective is hired by a newspaper editor in the town of Personville (known as Poisonville). Upon arrival into town, the detective’s client is murdered. Instead of returning to San Francisco, the detective stays, and is pulled into a rat’s nest of conflicting power struggles and gang feuds, with frequent gunplay and criminal activity of various sorts. The detective cleverly plays all sides against the others, though to what benefit it is hard to imagine, as he has already been paid. In any event, if you liked the first two stories, you’ll certainly like this one as well, the template and characters are virtually indistinguishable.

In rating these works, I’m faced with much the same dilemma as when I read William Gibson’s science fiction classic, Neuromancer, a ground breaking work decades ahead of its time, which has necessarily been diminished by the passage of time and the advent of much of the technology forecast in the novel. Read at the time of its release, it must have been truly original and spellbinding. Read thirty years later, it is nothing special. The same can be said for Hammett’s work. In the 30s and 40s, this must have been a breath of fresh air, now, in light of the succeeding eighty years, it is hackneyed and trite. It deserves every accolade it has garnered, as the foundation for a genre of literature and film that has produced such classics as Chinatown. As a present day reading experience however, three stars is generous. ( )
  santhony | Oct 22, 2012 |
I was surprised that all 3 of these books were listed on the 1001 list. I understand that Hammett is a master of the mystery genre, but they are quick easy reads with not much to them.
I liked The Thin Man the best. Maybe because it was so different than the normal mystery genre. The detective was very involved in the New York social scene and seemed somewhat debonair, rather than the detective in The Maltese Falcon who was the stereotype quiet trenchcoat/fedora type. I did enjoy the film noir quality to The Maltese Falcon. I saw the film years ago and the atmosphere of the old 1930's films is embedded in this novel.
In all three of the novels I kept forgetting that it was being told from first person because Hammett never tells us the interior thoughts. We mainly hear from dialogue that sounds like it is straight from a gangster flick. The Red Harvest dragged for me. It deals with detective coming into a town being torn apart by mobsters and corrupt cops. I lost all the corruption ties and gang links in the 2nd chapter. ( )
  strandbooks | May 28, 2010 |
I didn't expect to like The Maltese Falcon, but was completely impressed by the characters and the dialogue. The fact that there is no inner dialogue makes the story seem to be written for the screen.
One of my favorite quotes is from Sam Spade to Joe Cairo, "And when you're slapped you'll take it and like it." (71)
Hammett includes a great description of "the fat man," Mr. Gutman, on page 107:
"Spade went in. A fat man came to meet him.
The fat man was flabbily fat with bulbous pink cheeks and lips and chins and neck, with a great soft egg of a belly that was all his torso, and pendant cones for arms and legs. As he advanced to meet Spade all his bulbs rose and shook and fell separately with each step, in the manner of clustered soap-bubbles not yet released from the pipe through which they had been blown. His eyes, made small by fat puffs around them, were dark and sleek. Dark ringlets thinly covered his broad scalp. He wore a black cutaway coat, black vest, black satin Ascot tie holding a pinkish pearl, striped grey worsted trousers, and patent-leather shoes.
His voice was a throaty purr. "Ah, Mr. Spade," he said with enthusiasm and held out a hand like a fat pink star.

I did not like The Thin Man at all. The characters were not as interesting as in The Maltese Falcon, the dialogue was not so clever, and I was put off by the obvious fact that Nick is an alcoholic. What is engaging about that overriding character facet?

This edition has an excellent introduction that summarizes Dashiell Hammett's life and a chronology that outlines his life in conjunction with historical events. ( )
  WintersRose | Jul 24, 2009 |
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