The Maltese Falcon
Dashiell Hammett

I don’t normally read detective/mystery novels, but I was given a recommendation to try reading outside of what I normally read. Figuring that if I am to grab a book from another genre, I might as well do that genre justice, I decided to read this.

Ultimately though, I just don’t have much to say and I probably won’t be going out of my way to read any more detective novels. That’s not to say it’s not a good book, but the characterisation was just bizarre. Sam Spade is the original hard-as-nails private eye - I’m sure he’s intended as a character to be admired; as something or someone to aspire to. But that’s just not something I could do. I’m sure at some point in the past Spade’s attitude to women was admirable, but I could certainly never do that. Spade’s interaction with the police was fantastic though - a real sense of reality. Hammett was clearly writing these scenes straight from memory.

The story and mystery was enjoyable, with plenty of twists, just as you’d expect. Personally though, I just don’t get deeply involved in figuring out a mystery. Figuring out the people: for some reason that’s much more interesting; much more of a mystery.

This is the original private eye novel: everything that came after is just a refinement of the mould set in this book. As I was reading, when I needed to visualise scenes, I was pulling images from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? of all places - not establishing the exact tough tone required.

Really what this came down to, is this kind of book is now just a cliché and a parody. Even the twists are predictable from this point of view: just expect the worse and you’re about on track. And when you’re reading a cliché you can’t help but do that.

‘If this is the kind of thing you like, you’ll like this kind of thing,’ otherwise… Well, you can read it for the historical value… No matter what you will almost certainly enjoy this story; just try to forget the clichés and parodies. Wind yourself back to the 1930’s, if you can, that might help.