The Maltese Falcon firmly sets detective noir hard-boiled fiction as a thing in 1930 and will influence the genre for years to come but the only problem is that with anything that is a first, it is hard to live up to the better books and movies to come. The story starts when a beautiful woman enters a private detective’s office in San Francisco and asks for his assistance in following a man. From there, a mysterious precious falcon statue is the center of every character’s greed and desire. The Maltese Falcon has no good guys, our main character isn’t a good guy, but he does live by a code. Sam Spade is definitely a type of anti-hero that makes these type of books so popular. The story is one about tricking everyone else and getting the falcon all for yourself.
I thought this story was just alright, at no point did I ever really become excited or particularly enjoy reading this book. Hammet’s writing was interesting and I really liked his vernacular that he used in his dialogue but there was a serious lack of description and depth. After reading this, it is no wonder that most of these hard-boiled detective novels end up being first person nowadays. Seeing the mysteries and crimes through the eyes of an individual just makes those novels feel more intense and urgent. This novel just didn’t really give that urgency that other mysteries have. If I didn’t read this for my book club, I would have been more disappointed in the result. As it is, I’m glad I read it, just to say I’ve read it, but I won’t think too highly of it. I do want to try The Thin Man at some point, as I believe that to be a possibly better novel. Overall, I think that sticking with newer writers when it comes to the hard-boiled detective is a better idea.
April ’17 library book club book.