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Publisher's Summary

Paul Madvig was a cheerfully corrupt ward-heeler who aspired to something better: the daughter of Senator Ralph Bancroft Henry, the heiress to a dynasty of political purebreds. Did he want her badly enough to commit murder? And if Madvig was innocent, which of his dozens of enemies was doing an awfully good job of framing him? Dashiell Hammett’s tour de force of detective fiction combines an airtight plot, authentically venal characters, and writing of telegraphic crispness. A one-time detective and a master of deft understatement, Dashiell Hammett - author of The Maltese Falcon - virtually invented the hard-boiled crime novel.

©1931 Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Copyright © renewed 1958 by Dashiell Hammett. All rights reserved. (P)2011 AudioGo

What listeners say about The Glass Key

Average Customer Ratings
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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Pacing Quick & Plot was Goldilocks

I loved it. I thought Hammett was amazing before, but the Glass Key just solidified it. Definitely his tightest, most coherent novel. The characters were sharp, the pacing was quick, the plot was Goldilocks. No wonder the Coen brothers couldn't get enough.

31 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Not Hammett's best book, but well read.

Where does The Glass Key rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Near the middle.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

I liked Hammett's prose, the noir atmosphere, and the portrait he painted of a 1920's political machine.

I didn't particularly like the ending, which I can't explain without giving it away, or the pacing, which lags for a bit in the early-middle.

All in all, The Glass Key isn't Hammett's best, but it's still more than listen-able.

What does Stephen R. Thorne bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I can't think of anything special that Mr. Thorne brought to the reading, but he was perfectly competent. He did everything that I would expect an audiobook reader to do, and I would have no problem listening to him again.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It's not really a book that induces great emotion.

7 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • DJ
  • 01-17-18

Solid Mystery, A Bit Predictable

If you like the hard-boiled style of Hammett, Chandler, Cain, at all, you'll like this mystery. It's well-written, and very fast-paced. The main character, Ned Beaumont, is enigmatic, to a degree unusual for the genre. On the downside, the female characters are essentially cutouts, and much of the plot is fairly predictable, in a 19th-century sort of way (despite the story being written in 1931). Stephen Thorne's narration is consistently good.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Uneventful and humourless

I had read various stories by Dashiell Hammett before and found him crisp, humourless in a deadpan way, and quick-paced. I don't know what it was - maybe the hard-boiled crime novel is paling on me - but I found this novel surprisingly bland. There is not noticeable humour in it, which surprised me for Hammett, and I did not get any real sense as to who Nick Beaumont - the main character - is, or why he deserved to be telling this story. I had a much better sense of Paul Madviig, the person Beaumont describes himself as the one to whom he is hanger-on. Maybe this is realism; I myself found it unevenly to the point of boring, And again, as a fan of Hammett, I am surprised at the accolades this novel garners, which is why I picked it to listen to.

Also, I did not think the narrator was an especially skilled reader, which is why I wish there were a way of previewing books on Audible.

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Never a bad word

to say about Dashiell Hammett. And the narrator was fine, too. Top class noir. Read them all.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Hard boiled classic

Much lower body count than Red Harvest, in which there was a chapter called "The Seventeenth Murder." If you're looking for a hard boiled classic, where the men are men and the women are dames, then this'll do.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Great listen

This was a great listen as all the books in this series are. The plot twist at the end was truly unexpected.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Dispassionate and Disappointing

I didn’t much like the protagonist/hero/central character. He wasn’t so much of a noir “tough guy” as a disinterested, sometimes, masochist.

I’m not sure if there was a bad guy, but if there was, I didn’t like him either.

The writing was meh; the surprises were nonexistent; the atmosphere was bland; and there was an absolute absence of humor or irony.

Maybe Hammet was trying to be hard boiled, but it feels like he just phoned this one in.

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    5 out of 5 stars

Vintage Hard Boiled Crime

4.5 of 5 Stars.

Dashiell Hammett had an eloquent way of reducing things to their basic elements. The Glass Key tells the story of big city corruption from the external perspective of an advisor (Ned Beaumont) to a political crime boss. The narrative is that of a camera eye following Ned throughout the story without inner dialogue.

Well written and executed, Hammett was a superb writer but this story may only be appreciated by fans of hard boiled vintage crime fiction. The prose is sparse and practical.

A highly influential story, the Glass Key (and to a lesser extent Red Harvest), have been reframed in several films such as Kurosawa’s Yojimbo (1961), Leone’s Fist Full of Dollars (1964), Coen Brother’s Miller’s Crossing (1990) and Last Man Standing (1996). Recommended for vintage crime and noir enthusiasts.

The performance is solid though some of the voice characterizations are underwhelming (i.e. D.A. Farr).

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Glass Key

dashel hammett's book then meets the expectation of the Blockbuster movie The Glass Key. You will enjoy this audible book as much as you enjoy the movie.