Review: The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

Hard-boiled detective Sam Spade is hired to locate a client’s sister by tailing the sister’s companion. Spade’s partner Miles Archer takes on the assignment, and quickly both Archer and the man he was shadowing are murdered. As Spade pursues the mystery of his partner’s death, he is drawn into a circle of colorful characters, and they are all after a legendary statuette of a falcon that had long ago been made for King Charles of Spain. Encrusted with jewels, it is worth a fortune. Missing for centuries, it resurfaced in 1921, when it was covered in black enamel to disguise its true value.

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.

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett. Unabridged audio narrated by William Dufris. Original copyright 1930. Run time is 7 hours and 5 mins. Published by Blackstone Audio, 2004.

I’ve always loved the movie The Maltese Falcon. And I’ve always been a fan of hard-boiled pulp private eyes. Probably due to seeing that movie when I was a kid! Somehow, I never had gotten around to reading the actual story until 2020. How is that even possible? I should have read it years ago when I first got my hands on a copy of it.

I am SO happy I finally read this book. It was easy to see why this is a classic and quintessential private eye story. I had an absolute blast reading it. If you are a mystery fan, you need to read this book.

Man… Sam Spade. What a detective. Flaws and all… the ultimate noir detective. He’s not perfect, he’s a plate full of problems, and he’s trying to figure just what the hell is going on. You can’t help but feel hooked with this story, right along with Sam. A treasure of unimaginable wealth… a statue of a bird… Where is it? Who has it? Who is telling the truth? You can’t help but feel the tension and anticipation from hunting for this statue. It builds and builds up to the very end. Will they finally find the statue?

I was pretty impressed that the famous movie based on this book, actually stayed really faithful to the source material. 😮 I was not expecting that… I don’t know why, but it was a very pleasant surprise. With the book, you get a little bit more insight into the characters of the story that in the movie was left unsaid or implied. I really enjoyed those little details.

The Maltese Falcon, both the book and the movie, is just an epic story. You have a captivating mystery, sketchy characters, wise cracking detectives, dangerous women, murder, and a fantastic treasure to chase. Honestly, both versions are a must see / read story. I’ve watched the movie several times, and I feel like I will be re-visiting the book just as often.


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