My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The classic hard-boiled detective novel, The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett, was one of the earliest books in that genre. The main character seems cliche at times, but only because so many imitations have followed. According to Wikipedia: “Raymond Chandler's character Philip Marlowe...was strongly influenced by Hammett's Spade.” There are many lesser known examples as well.
The main women in the story, Ruth Wonderly, Effie Perine, and Iva Archer, are all drawn to Spade's tough personality, but each in her own way. They are clearly from decades past, but they are fully developed, interesting characters. The same is true of the men, although I thought Kasper Gutman (the fat man) was a little weaker than the others. There were some implausible aspects to the plot, but everything came together in the end.
I listened to the audio while on a trip with my wife and daughter. The book was narrated by William Dufris and I was impressed by his reading. He was influenced by the film and did a wonderful Peter Lorre imitation while keeping true to all the other characters as well. It's a great book to listen to while driving.
Steve Lindahl – author of Hopatcong Vision Quest, White Horse Regressions, and Motherless Soul
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