Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, first serialized in a magazine in 1930, is best known through the iconic Humphrey Bogart film of 1941. But it was the book that created the classic "noir" genre with its tough private detective threading his cool way between the criminals and the law. Sam Spade, the private eye solving the mystery of the Maltese statuette, was the template for Philip Marlowe and a host of others. But they come no more shrewd and cunning with Hammett peppering the text with one-liners. Not even Bogart bettered the original. An idiomatic new recording from Eric Meyers.
©1930 Dashiell Hammett (P)2011 Naxos AudioBooks
I like mysteries but sometimes on audio I feel that it can be hard to keep track of all the details. This mystery is light and funny at times, and is perfect for audio. I only gave 4 stars for story, though, because the ending was a little flat.
I'm quite the fan of the neo-noir stories (my most recent favourite is Alistair Reynolds' Century Rain) so I figured it might be interesting to go back to one of the pioneering detective-noir stories to see how it all began.
Obviously, harking from 1930 it's a little dated, but it's just telling a story, not prognosticating the future (as are most other things I read) so it doesn't really suffer from this. The main thing that really kept annoying me was the role of the leading ladies, all of which were suitably (for the time) docile and demure and which to me somewhat soured what was otherwise a good story (I can't really explain without entering spoiler territory, so I shan't).
The story is described elsewhere so I'm not going to touch on that more than to say that it's well paced and Spade is quite unpredictable in his actions so knowing what's coming next is not quite as easy to suppose as you might think. The descriptive prose is brief, but effective. When it comes to places and scenes, transporting! I relished the language used in the evocative descriptions of old San Francisco.
Overall I enjoyed it, although I'd not be rushing out to read more of Sam Spade (which isn't a problem, since there isn't any).
With regard to the audio, Mr Meyers does an excellent job voicing the characters, both male and female (especially Gutman) and there's not the briefest hint of music or other audible interference (huzzah). There is a recording error at 1:23:11 when the phrase "Spade inclined his head" is repeated but apart from that it's all good.
Absolutely would listen to the story yet again (I have the movie on disc but enjoy the reading more). I highly recommend having your favorite old and new books read to you by an electronic device such as an Ipods, MP3s or even you home PC etc. As I grow older I find myself losing interest in simply ready and fall asleep quickly after a single chapter tops. With Audible.com reading me my personal favorite I am able to actually listen for hours before sleep overtakes me.
Naturally it is Sam Spade who is in every scene except one when his partner Miles Archer is killed by the treacherous villain whose name I will not mention lest I spoil the story for the mystery fans who have not read this Dashiell Hammett classic.
I found it to be excellent although his Joel Cairo is a bit to feminine.
I certainly did not cry but did laugh a times when Sam dealt with both the
Great fun and at times a can't wait to hear what happens next mystery. Hammett's best work.
The plot and characters were pretty good. Not great, but enjoyable.
So many PI mysteries are 1st person which I do not like. This is 3rd person. I was so pleased with 3rd person that I rounded to 4 stars. Sadly I noticed the author used 1st person in some of his other PI mystery novels.
Many say this book created the classic “noir” genre.
I recently read a different book and gave it a low rating because the detective just went around asking questions. This book has more than just asking questions, which I like. Example: Sam (the PI) asks a taxi driver questions and learns a woman bought a newspaper. So Sam bought the same newspaper to see if there was a clue. He also searched her apartment for newspaper copies.
I like Sam Spade’s physical description, a blonde satan.
I would have liked more character development.
The narrator Eric Meyers was good.
I was laughing toward the end. A beautiful female repeatedly lied to Sam. And then she acts all sweet saying we love each other, don’t you love me? She is thinking he’ll look past all that and do what she wants - so he can be with her. He says something like yeah I love you, but he still turns her in to the cops.
Genre: PI mystery
Have re-discovered "quality time." Evenings listening to good books have replaced mindless tv watching. What a difference!
Absolutely! Not only are the writings of Dashiell Hammett some of the seminal novels (and short stories) in the beginnings of the great American detective genre (more action-oriented than the somewhat cerebral British mysteries), The Maltese Falcon is a classic in it's own right!
Beyond that, it is difficult to find words that adequately praise the amazing narration of Eric Meyers. He brought such depth of character to each voice he portrayed, especially that of one man named Gutman. (AKA "Fatman" in the book). However, he was amazingly good with each person (though not surprisingly, better with the male voices.)
I think Dashiell Hammett is to American detective fiction as Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers or Ngaio Marsh (for instance) are to British mysteries.
He brought this to a spectacular level of performance that would be hard to top. This book is classic as read, in movie form, and I now think as narrated by Eric Meyers!
What more could be said about this book that has not already been written by thousands of others over the years? If you love mysteries, The Maltese Falcon, written in 1930, deserves a read, simply for the experience of being grounded in the origins of the whole American detective novel. Beyond that, it is a very good mystery in it's own right. But if for no other reason, please treat yourself to a listen by a narrator who is just perfect for this book and these characters!
work at a job that lets me listen to books all day I like history, good mysteries and humor
Has been copied so much that listening to the original felt cliched in a way but I thoroughly
enjoyed the book.
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