Hammett, Dashiell, Mystery

Review of The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

What was it about?

Private Investigator Samuel Spade has a new client. Miss Wonderly wants Spade’s help to find her sister Corinne who has run off  to New York with a man named Floyd Thursby. Thursby will be arriving at the St. Mark’s hotel at 8 pm this very night, and she is afraid that Thursby will attack her. Spade informs Miss Wonderly that his partner Miles Archer will accompany her to the hotel to spy on Thursby.

Early the next morning, Samuel Spade receives a call from the Police Detective Tom Polhaus. Miles Archer has been found dead with a loaded revolver in his pocket. An automatic revolver was laying near him. Tom believes that this is the revolver that was used to kill Miles. Shortly after returning home from the crime scene, Spade receives another call, this time from Lieutenant Dundy. Floyd Thursby has been found dead, shot in the back before entering the St. Mark’s hotel. Lieutenant Dundy and Tom Polhaus blame Spade for Miles’ and Thursby’s deaths. It doesn’t seem like a very far fetched conclusion to make. It is no secret that Spade hated Miles. On top of that, he was in love with Miles’ wife, Iva. Iva even blames Spade for her husband’s death. But Spade denies having anything to do with the murders.

Spade is convinced that Miss Wonderly has been lying to him. Finally, after much interrogation, Miss Wonderly, whose real name is Brigid O’Shaugnessy, admits to having lied to Sam about her sister. Sam isn’t surprised by this revelation. She had paid the detectives too much to spy on Thursby.

Sam receives another client in his office. Joel Cairo is looking for a certain falcon statuette, and he is willing to pay five thousand dollars to get his hands on it. Spade agrees to help Cairo, but he secretly has his suspicions. Maybe the murders of Floyd Thursby and Miles Archer are somehow connected to this falcon – this Maltese falcon.

What did I think of it?

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett was a fast-paced and fascinating detective novel. Spade is a very typical fictional private detective. He is brilliant, self-interested, and a womanizer. Because of these characteristics, he is a great literary detective; Spade has the ability to think like a criminal. He also works alone. Lieutenant Dundy and Tom Polhaus want Spade to share what he knows with them. When he doesn’t, the police think that their colleague is complicit in the murders. The Maltese Falcon is suspenseful but humorous, a great summer read.

Favorite Quote

[Brigid O’Shaugnessy]: “I’m eighty years old, incredibly wicked, and an iron-molder by trade. But if it’s a pose it’s one I’ve grown into, so you won’t expect me to drop it entirely, will you?”