I have read and re-read all of Dashiell Hammett's work, but this is the first time I've listened to it (though I've listened to several hundred unabridged books over the past 10 years). Hammett is the finest detective story writer ever, in my opinion and his descriptions of San Francisco are beyond wonderful. I rate the Maltese Falcon as highly as possible, but I am a bit put off by the reading. For the most part it is quite good, but I dislike the voice of Joel Cairo being an impersonation of Peter Lorre (who played him in John Huston's great film adaptation) and as with all male readers - I loathe the high pitched voice given to female characters. Those criticisms are insignificant though when placed against Dashiell Hammett's perfect canvas. If you can not read The Maltese Falcon or just want it in as many ways as you can get it, then download this. It is fantastic.
For me, this book didn't live up to the hype. I enjoyed it, but there are many books of this type that I've enjoyed more.
I found his voices to be really annoying.
No...it was solid, but not really notable.
I would not listen to The Maltese Falcon again because it's a pretty simple story, and in this case, there's no reason to go back for the narration.
I enjoyed the physical descriptions of Sam Spade and his witty dialog with other characters.
The narrator's voice characterizations were for the most part, Saturday morning cartoon-ish, and the lines just felt poorly acted. His Sam Spade wasn't too bad, which saved it, and non dialog was just fine.
I felt no need to listen to this book all in one sitting, but that's not my style anyway.
If you're a fan of detective fiction and noir, are on the lookout for light entertainment, and haven't seen the movie for so long you don't remember the plot, I would go ahead and give this a try. It's a good story. If you are picky and feel life is too short to spend on anything but the best, then give it a pass.
The original story. The narrator was obnoxiously bad.
Of course, it was a classic.
Hire a new or different narrator
I've seen this book in so many "must read" lists that I felt a little underwhelmed by it. It wasn't bad, an enjoyable listen; but I think it's a little over-hyped. It's really no fault of the books that I was expecting more, and I don't really hold that against it.
This is the only 'Noir' novel I've ever read, but if it's the quintessential one, I probably won't read many more. As I said, it was enjoyable to listen to, but a relatively forgettable story. There are books you can recall indefinitely almost line for line having read them once; I'm writing this review a month or so after having listened, and I'm having trouble remember the major plot points, much less the scenes or dialogue. Every moment of struggle or tension is ruined by about the halfway mark because every encounter is ruined by Sam's almost omnipotent induction. Every time there's any mystery or intrigue, Sam figures it out and explains it before it's starts getting interesting.
Oh, and the love interest sub-plot is totally shoe-horned in and about 90% of it takes place in the last tenth of the book and had been so utterly nonexistent throughout the novel that when there was suddenly a huge (as in minutes upon minutes) of dialogue about it, conversation carries absolutely no weight or emotion. It just felt forced and awkward.
All of these issues aside, it was entertaining, just not as timeless as I was led to believe. A passing diversion that was (perhaps owing to my lack of 'noir' reading) different enough to keep me from becoming bored.
The performance was good. Almost all the reviews I've read said that the narrator tried to make the voices too much like the movie. Having never seen the movie I'm not sure if this is true or not. But each character did have their own unique voice, which is something I wish more narrators would do. Reading, it's easier to go back and figure out who is talking during lengthy back-and-forth discussion, but it's very difficult in audio format. So if there are large sections of dialogue (especially with more than 2 people) where the 'he said's and 'she said's are (properly) omitted for the sake of redundancy, it can be easy to get lost when the narrator reads each character in the same tone as all the others. And so I am grateful for the colorful, if often a bit overacted, narration.
You can't beat the story. It's fantastic, but the narration (especially for the female character) is annoying and ruins the story. I can usually listen to a good audible book over and over again, but not this one.
"There's no honour among thieves, and frankly not so much among the good guys" sums up the plot. Set over 5 days in late 1920's San Francisco, the story rips along with memorable characters, all of them quite wicked. If you like your heroes to be nice guys, Sam Spade is not for you. But the fast pace of the narrative means that the relationships remained undeveloped and at the end I would have preferred a longer book which explained how Brigid, Cairo and Gutman (what a wonderful name for a fatman!) got together to steal the falcon in the first place with clues on how Kemidov fooled them in the end. For the modern reader some of the San Francisco late 1920's slang was dated and unrecognisable. The narrator was just okay, his men were acceptable, but he fell short with the women especially in those passages where he had to put some animation in the voices of Brigid and Effie Perine.
I like Jack Reacher style characters regardless of setting. Put them in outer space, in modern America, in a military setting, on an alien planet... no worries. Book has non moralistic vigilante-justice? Sign me up! (oh, I read urban fantasy, soft and hard sci-fi, trashy vampire and zombie novels too)
As someone who likes noir detective fiction, I thought I should go back to the beginning and read the only book about the original noir detective, Sam Spade. (I have not seen any movies based on this book.)
It was noir, and Spade is a pretty cool dude. He's kinda like an early version of Lawrence Block's Matthew Scudder (which you should read if you like this type of cool, calm and collected detective: ).
The storyline itself, however, was rather disappointing. Spade didn't actually do any detecting - the mystery was solved, literally, by a man tumbling in through Spade's front door and then the bad guy detailing exactly how things went down. Spade just spent his time going from point A to point B being the strong and silent type.
And the ending was very unexpected with all its "if you loved me, you wouldn't..." when, exactly did they have time to fall in love? He saw her 4 times, shagged her once and suddenly was in love with her? Different era I suppose, but...
The narration was fine. It suited the story.
This classic 1930's detective mystery was a great read from start to finish! Colorful characters, crisp dialogue, an intriguing plot, and superb narration -- it all adds up to over seven hours of sheer pleasure. You will find yourself wisked away to the foggy streets of 1930's San Francisco and loving every moment of it!
I'm constantly listening to recorded books. Right now I'm a bit sick and weak, but can still enjoy a good listen. I'm so glad I have this resource available.
This was a great crime story made more interesting because it was written a long time ago--when there were no cell phones and people smoked a lot. I've seen the old movie with Bogart, Lorre and I forget the other guy. The vocals on this recording simulate them.