Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Rosy's scrawled book recommendation: The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

The Maltese Falcon
Dashiell Hammett

Sam Spade is hired by the beautiful Miss Wonderley to track down her sister. When his partner, Miles Archer, is shot while on the trail, Spade finds himself both hunter and hunted as he tracks down a jewel-encrusted treasure, people are willing to kill for.

Orion Books


Rosy's scrawlings on The Maltese Falcon
I recently had a little argument with the hubby over whether or not more or less of the people we often talk to knew who Sam Spade was. I voted more as I figured you just couldn't not know him, as it was to me on par with not knowing who Sherlock was, while my hubby voted less as he'd somehow managed to not know who Sam Spade was at all. A vote was placed on facebook and I won. Just. Appallingly just, to me. I don't particularly care if you know him through the movie or the book but know him you must. And here's why. 
Sam Spade is a classic private eye figure, one of literary legend. He appears in The Maltese Falcon and a few other short stories. The Maltese Falcon was also made into an absolute classic of a film, more class than noir, and also it a comic series. Sam Sade is the father figure, figuratively speaking, for Columbo and Dick Tracy, two more smash hit figures of detective fiction. Both he and Sherlock have influenced more in detective fiction than you could possibly know. So to not know who he is is a bit of a crime if you profess to like any form of detective fiction, be it books, films, television series or comics. And I mean that seriously, from the heart.
That in itself should let you know why I recommend you read The Maltese Falcon. But I will also add more on its own benefits, literary history and impact aside. The Maltese Falcon is a brilliant piece of noir that has yet to be translated into another format without losing some of the noir elements. Sam Spade is a big bear of a man, a wily private eyes who smokes, drinks and gazes upon women as though they were lightning in a bottle. He won't trust any woman except his faithful receptionist, and even then he doesn't take her 'womanly intuition' and lives to regret it, at least in his heart. There are a series of femme fatales in his life, the most conniving of whom is the women he knows originally as Miss Wonderley. Add to this is a twisting web of lies and betrayal stemming from the theft of a treasure of unbelievable importance and value. Murder is, of course, the result. All the action plays out in brilliant colour and deep shadows, complete with tears and begging, clouds of cigarette smoke, pointed guns and long coats concealing weapons. All the men, bar one boy, have a touch of class in that they wear suits and hats while the women are dressed to the nines and forever guided by their emotions. There are also so many confrontations and twists to the plot that you're kept guessing right to the end. In short, The Maltese Falcon is a masterpiece in crime writing, starring a man of great importance to detective fiction as a whole and is one of the best classic noir pieces you'll ever read. So read it and enjoy the hard boiled goodness. 

I'd recommend this book to: those who love noir, classic crime, twisting mysteries, femme fatales and bruiser private eyes.

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