Maltese Falcon

Maltese Falcon

by Dashiell Hammett
Publisher: Vintage Classics
Trade Paperback, 217 pages
Price: $16.00

In the 1920s a new form of literary entertainment began to emerge that had formerly existed only in theory and was evidenced by (largely) very bad attempts. It was called pulp fiction, and it got its name from the poor quality paper the novels and magazines it was found in were printed on, though certainly the moniker referred also to the works themselves. Though noir fiction now has a more highbrow connotation, the detective fiction and crime stories of the pulps was once derided as little more than titillation and literary garbage.

Thanks in large part to film celebrations, pulp fiction has recently been taken more seriously. Dashiell Hammett, one of the premier pulpist detective writers of his day, has gained status as a pioneer and early practitioner of a formerly underrated genre, and The Maltese Falcon is among his most notable works. It is the only novel devoted to Hammett's quintessential hard-boiled private detective Sam Spade, and it set the bar for tough good guys who are always just one step ahead of the law themselves.

Sam Spade navigates San Francisco's darker streets cracking wise, drinking hard, becoming entangled with beautiful dames, and using his formidable powers of deduction to solve mysteries Poirot would have trouble with. The prose is clipped and rough, and while Hammett's no Hemingway, his style is effective in evoking a mood and atmosphere. This edition of The Maltese Falcon includes several photographs of 1920s Frisco along with explanatory notes to help reconstruct the world on which Hammett first unleashed his unique novel that has influenced generations of writers since.

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
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Exodus Rating:
FLAWS: Mild language
Summary: Full of double-crosses, tough dames, and a rogue detective, this is the quintessential gritty noir novel.

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