Book Review – The Maltese Falcon

by Dashiell Hammett

Started: 26th March 2015

Finished: 26th March 2015

This novella took a very different turn from the other books and stories I’ve read for Detective Fiction. I thoroughly enjoyed this ‘new’ direction of Detective Fiction!

One night Sam Spade is approached by the mysterious Miss Wonderly, and is hired to follow the man that’s allegedly ran off with her younger sister. Shortly after putting his partner on the case he gets a call telling him that his partner has been shot whilst on the job. Spade begins to question whether Miss Wonderly is all that she seems.

I really loved the characters in this story, they were all so interesting. Although none of them were written to be particularly likeable (or that’s how it appeared, anyway) you still can’t help but have your favourites. Even though Sam Spade seems to go by his own rules and is a womanizer, I did quite like him as a detective. It was nice to have a detective that didn’t seem to know what was happening and was very open about it – rather than claiming to know everything about the situation that he found himself i. He had some witty lines and he was quite unpredictable. I also liked Spade’s secretary, Effie, too. Although she was only a minor character, I liked her personality and the way she and Spade would interact. It was interesting having a more major female character with Miss Wonderly, however after a while she began to annoy me a little and by the end, I didn’t really mind what would happen to her.

The plot of the novella was great, however there did reach a point where I was losing some interest and lost track of what was going on. However, by the end of the novella I understood what had happened and how we got there. I think one of the reasons I preferred The Maltese Falcon to ‘Golden-Age’ Detective Fiction was the realism and darkness of it. It just made a really interesting change from the predictability of what we have been studying. I read this book in a day as I enjoyed reading it.

I hope that I will be able to read more like this on the module and in future in general!

Rating: 4/5

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