The Maltese Falcon is the definitive masterpiece of the hard-boiled detective genre. Humphrey Bogart immortalized tough-guy Sam Spade in the classic 1941 film.
©1956, 1957 Dashiell Hammett; (P)2003 The Audio Partners Publishing Corp.
"Dashiell Hammett...is a master of the detective novel, yes, but also one hell of a writer." (The Boston Globe)
"The Maltese Falcon is not only probably the best detective story we have ever read, it is an exceedingly well written novel." (The Times Literary Supplement)
"Hammett's prose [is] clean and entirely unique. His characters [are] as sharply and economically defined as any in American fiction." (The New York Times)
"William Dufris is a one-man band, covering the entire cast of diverse characters with unbelievable ease....just short of amazing." (AudioFile)
The audiobook of the Maltese Falcon exceeded my expectations. It was richer, and more detailed than the movie (in which Bogie played Sam Spade). The femme fatale is wonderfully portrayed, as is the treacherous Joel Cairo. This is the first time I have heard an American reader carry off multiple voices and characters. Usually the 'dipthong drift' which characterises Amer-English makes the voices too whiney and insubstantial when compared, for example, with Richard Burton or Derek Jacobi. But this book is the exception. The voice of Cairo (Peter Lorrie in the movie) is delightful, as if the actor himself, dead all these years, had come back.
Listening to the audiobook also made me realise how much 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit ?' owed to the book, rather than the movie. The mental images created are very strong in this novel, the characters so stereotypical or 'characaturised' as to be almost cartoonish, but in an entertaining way, and in a style which reflected the 1940's I suppose.
This might be the best audiobook I have heard so far. Strongly recommended, but you do have to pay attention !
Most people have seen the movie (often more than once) and many have read the book, so what's new and worthwhile about this audio book? The narrator, for one. William Dufris does a fine job with this book. He doesn't try to make Sam Spade sound like Humphrey Bogart--a wise choice. After all, the Sam Spade in the book (blond hair, somewhat satanic smiling features) isn't like Bogart's character at all. At the same time, he does an excellent imitation of the film versions of Cairo and Gutman. All in all, it was fun to listen to. The story stands on its own merits: classic hard-boiled detective fiction. If you're looking for good entertainment, this is is.
Good book and great story. The narrator was good and the audio quality was good. Only one problem - the narrator REALLY overacted the women's parts. In fact, he carried on so much, I fast forwarded through a couple of sections because it got so nerve-rattling.
I had seen the movie (the 1941 remake, never the original) years ago but had vague recollections of the story. Being older now, I have a much higher respect for Mr. Hammett's writing style as well as a deeper understanding of the plot. The book was ever bit as good as the movie, if not better. I love the details and the way Sam Spade is portrayed -- stories nowadays are oftentimes too predictable with the good guys and bad guys clearly defined as if guised in white hats and black hats. Sam Spade is a gritty good guy who would probably wear a gray hat.
The reader is fantastic and enjoyable to hear. Other critics say he reflects too much the actors in the film but I didn't necessarily see that. Personally I think both the actors and Dufris merely captured the characters' personalities. He did an outstanding job that would make Mr. Hammett proud.
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.
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.
I had seen the movie many years ago, and was in the mood for a little mystery noir, so I bought this book. Having forgotten most of the plot, I was easily caught up in this complex story of lies, liars and treasure. The narrator did an absolutely fabulous job of differentiating the characters by voice, and his Joe Cairo actually sounded like Peter Lorre! (Sam Spade did not sound like Humphrey Bogart, which I think would have distracted me.) I enjoyed the book so much that I listened virtually nonstop until I finished it. A wonderful book for a long trip or a rainy day at home.
This is a fantastic story by Hamett. I think the narrator Dufris did a fantastic job bringing the characters to life. I had the image of this book in black and white in relation to the Bogart film. The narrator brings the characters to life with the Gutman role played in the film by Sydney Greenstreet and Cairo role played by Peter Loire. I felt the passion and lust for this historic bird that would do anything to acquire. I couldn't wait to hear Gutman speak in this book. The female parts were not done as well, well enough with the main female character though. It was short and very enjoyable, and it is done in San Francisco, where I live. If you like mystery and going to a play then you will enjoy this.
One of the other reviewers says "This is a wonderful adaptation from a great film." There's an excellent reason for that, even though the film was made eleven years after the novel was published: If you've seen the movie, it will play in your head as you listen. The actors and director must have read the book to the point of memorization. For example, all of Bogie's gestures and facial expressions are described almost cinematically in the novel. The same can be said of Lorre, Greenstreet and Astor. It is, of course, THE landmark in the genre. Every detective novel in the past eighty years has been influenced by this book. It is well worth a listen.
the story and the reading were great... film noir, lots of suspense, early 20th century style. those who feel the characters, especially the women, were overacted are not familiar w/the genre... all women in detective stories of this era were somewhat melodramatic by today's standards. lighten up... it's fun!
my only complaint is why weren't the "end of Disc 1; beginning of Disc 2" notices edited out?
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