The Glass Key

Narrated by: Stephen R. Thorne
Length: 6 hrs and 23 mins
4.0 out of 5 stars (224 ratings)

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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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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    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.

29 people found this helpful

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    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.

6 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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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.

4 people found this helpful

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  • 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.

1 person found this helpful

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Great

I love Dashiell Hammett. I remember the movie with Alan Ladd. Scenes from the movie played in my head listening to this audio.

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Classic? What did I miss?

What would have made The Glass Key better?

Read 'The Gutting of Couffignal' last year by the same author. Quite superior to this dull tale. I gave up at the three hour mark. It runs a total of six and a half.
How did this achieve classic status? Did readers not have many choices in 1931?
Its not terrible, just an unremarkable story you'd expect to find within the pages of a pre-WWII Ellery Queen issue.
I've read hundreds of mystery/crime/thrillers and listened to dozens and this is no 'Moonstone' or 'The Big Sleep'.

Would you ever listen to anything by Dashiell Hammett again?

Undecided.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The narrator does the best he can with what he's been given. Clearly an exercise in making bricks without straw. Glad I don't have his job.

Any additional comments?

I gotta remember that Audible is a business, not a mission school run by Jesuits. They'll do anything for a buck.

1 person found this helpful

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WORST EVER!!

What disappointed you about The Glass Key?

This is possibly the worst book I have ever read! I was shocked at how poor the writing is. I have read at least 4 Dashiell Hammett books and most were quite good, but this one should never have gotten past his editor, or I'm tempted to say that he couldn't possibly have had one.

I quit at the end of the third CD(out of five) without really knowing just what the plot is, and who the characters are, and what their positions are. Many of Hammett's descriptors are inappropriate, teenage level.

I don't understand how this book got such high review ratings.

Would you ever listen to anything by Dashiell Hammett again?

I'm not sure I would try another Hammett without listening to a good representative part of it.

What didn???t you like about Stephen R. Thorne???s performance?

The reader isn't bad, but not particularly good, either.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Glass Key?

What scenes would I have cut? Just about all of them.

5 people found this helpful