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The Maltese Falcon
The Maltese Falcon
Author: Dashiell Hammett
A treasure worth killing for. Sam Spade, a slightly shopworn private eye with his own solitary code of ethics. A perfumed grafter named Joel Cairo, a fat man name Gutman, and Brigid O'Shaughnessy, a beautiful and treacherous woman whose loyalties shift at the drop of a dime. These are the ingredients of Dashiell Hammett’s coolly glittering ...  more »
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ISBN-13: 9780679722649
ISBN-10: 0679722645
Publication Date: 7/17/1989
Pages: 224
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.

3.8 stars, based on 125 ratings
Publisher: Random House
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio Cassette, Audio CD
Members Wishing: 0
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

kateknolls avatar reviewed The Maltese Falcon on + 11 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
This is the first Dashiell Hammett book I've read and I was hooked instantly. If you are into a good mystery and noir crime this is for you. He's a wonderful writer and the characters are great!

I'm from the San Francisco area so it's a lot of fun to read about all these places that are so close by. If you get a chance and you're a fan, you should take the Dashiell Hammett tour of S.F. Find more info here:
OurMissBooks avatar reviewed The Maltese Falcon on
Helpful Score: 3
What a good book! If you've seen the movie it will be hard to get Bogart out of your mind, but if you focus you can do it. The writing is so original and witty, and it sent me to the dictionary more than once! I recommend it!
reviewed The Maltese Falcon on + 155 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
One of the classics. Sam Spade and his cohorts are almost taken in by a beautiful woman. Book said to be one of the best detective novels written.
thameslink avatar reviewed The Maltese Falcon on + 723 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Classic detective fiction featuring Sam Spade.
reviewed The Maltese Falcon on + 26 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I struggled with how to rate this because 1. I don't want to cast shade on an undisputed classic detective novel that many consider to be one of the best books of the 20th century, especially since 2. The "hard boiled" detective novel isn't a genre that appeals to me. In fact, I only read this because Erik Larson, an author I admire, told the New York Times it's his favorite book.

With that said, however, I feel that any great book is simply a great book, regardless of the genre, and I didn't think this one was great. Here's why:
1. Stilted, awkward prose: I initially chalked it up to the fact that sentence structure and word usage were different in 1929 than they are today, but why can I read Tolstoy from 1877 and feel like he's a close personal friend whose train of thought is just like mine?
2. Insulting sexism: Today, Sam Spade would never have gotten mixed up in the whole Maltese falcon debacle because he would have lost his business years earlier as a result of a sexual harassment lawsuit. Apparently, any woman will sleep with him; he's completely irresistible; and they are very easy to manipulate, so they all do his bidding regardless of how he treats them.
3. Lack of character development: The characters all seemed one-dimensional, not fully formed. I would have liked little glimpses into how they ended up in the situations/lives they were in. They seem to have dropped onto the earth as full grown amoral adults with no families or home bases. They just travel around looking for the falcon and killing anyone who gets in the way with no remorse.
4. Disappointing ending: The ending fizzled for me. It was all for nothing. The falcon was fake. Lots of people died and no one even remotely seemed to care. No one, least of all Sam Spade, seemed to have learned or grown from the experience.
Read All 19 Book Reviews of "The Maltese Falcon"

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knut avatar reviewed The Maltese Falcon on + 59 more book reviews
I read this in high school then again in my 30's. Then a book review in 2015 called the ultimate detective novel. At 217 pages this looked to be a quick read and it is/was. I couldn't put it down!
I think the movie is a classic, made more compelling because it is black and white, but (must I capitalize?) the book is even better!
The tough-guy detective, the slimmy, unpredictible scum he deals with, the women he treats with a certian self-distancing, and the era that is so far from my experience all contribute to the appeal.
reviewed The Maltese Falcon on + 33 more book reviews
I don't think you need me to tell you that Dashiell Hammett could write! What I loved about the book is that the movie follows it very faithfully, yet, somehow, I never DID understand the plot from the movie. Yet the dialog, and each "scene", you can see in your mind's eye as you read, because you've seen the movie so often. The plot is very clear in the book, however, so something must have gotten left behind in making the movie...

I enjoyed this book very much!
theatricalscot avatar reviewed The Maltese Falcon on + 15 more book reviews
Classic noir thriller and a good read.
reviewed The Maltese Falcon on + 136 more book reviews
I know this takes place in the 30's but I couldn't get past the way they spoke about women....
Gracious-Granny avatar reviewed The Maltese Falcon on + 137 more book reviews
A great clasic.

Book Wiki

Common Title
Original Publication Date (YYYY-MM-DD)
Sam Spade, private eye (Primary Character)
Joel Cairo (Major Character)
Brigid O'Shaughnessy (Major Character)