The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

This month’s book club selection was The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett.  I have to admit I didn’t really enjoy this book.  I’m usually a person who complains about books that are in need of ruthless editors, but this book was so sparse that I never really cared about any of the characters.  This seemed to be the consensus among my book club as well.  We were all expecting to rip through it really fast because it is short and should be an easy read.  Everyone said that it took them much longer to finish than a 200 page book normally would because we just didn’t want to pick it up and read.

I think this is the first noir fiction I’ve ever read so I’m not sure if it’s this book or the genre that turns me off.  It did give us plenty to talk about in book club.  The depiction of women sparked quite a lively discussion.  Any time a woman wanted Sam Spade to forget what he was asking her, she kissed him or slept with him.  Gay men weren’t very nicely depicted either.  I can forgive a book these transgressions based on the time period, and they do provide a lot of discussion opportunities for a book club.

I was surprised to see that it averages 5 stars on Shelfari.  I wonder if some people are apt to like it just because they like the movie, which I haven’t seen but plan to Netflix soon.  Do any of my readers really love this book?  If so, tell me why in the comments.

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2 thoughts on “The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

  1. If you’re thinking of some very good “noir” books, I strongly recommend the “Berlin Noir” collection from Philip Kerr. The stories (there are 4 now) of Bernie Gunther — a German cop-turned-detective in the 1930s and 40s. Great great stuff.

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