Adult, Books

Red Harvest and The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett: Book Review

This weeks book review is the hard boiled detective fiction edition:


Title: The Maltese Falcon
Author: Dashiell Hammett
Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
Page #: 217
Genre: Crime/Detective Novel

This was the first full length novel that I read for my class on hard boiled detective novel.  We read some detevtive short stories like Poe’s The Purloined Letter which is arguably the first literary detective novel ever and the story with which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle based Sherlock Holmes off of (one of the other short stories we also read) and a few from Black Mask Magazine, a magazine that ran both detective short stories and westerns.  These two genres are arguably the only two literary traditions that originated in America.

The Maltese Falcon is very much what people think of when they refer to a Hard Boiled Detective Novel because its characters and plot lend themselves to the Noir Film genre.  If you are a fan of Noir Films and detective stories than this is very much something you will like.  I enjoyed it and it is one of the first of its kind.  For me it seemed a bit simple as if it were a parody of the genre but I know that it is not a parody rather one of the ground breaking debut novels in its genre.  I think I have been spoiled by everything that came after the publishing of this book and expected more from it.

The story and characters are engaging enough and it is definitely a “who done it?” type plot.  There is a crime and our shady detective who lives in the shadows between crime and law has to solve the crime and get out alive.  It has everything that the genre is known for and for that reason is very appealing.  It is also an American classic and for that reason I was glad I read it, even if it did seem a bit average at times.


Title: Red Harvest
Author: Dashiell Hammett
Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
Page #: 216
Genre: Crime/Detective Novel

However, the second novel we read was Red Harvest.  I enjoyed this novel much more.  Not only is there significantly more action in this novel but the narrator of the story is far more appealing in an entirely different way.  Through both novels and the handful of short stories that he narrates the “Continental Op” never discloses his name.  I found this incredibly interesting along with the fact that this man is apparently a sociopath.

He seems to like not only manipulating people, which is common of all hard boiled detectives if I’m going to be honest, but to make them suffer as if they have all personally spited him.  This is also a novel where the detective is part of an agency rather than a vigilante out on his own making bank from all of the clients that know where his smoke filled office is and getting shivved by all those dangerous dames.  That was a beautiful sentence and I refuse to edit it merely because my brain made it that way and that way it will stay.

It is too late for me to be writing a review.  I’m sorry for this.

Overall, I really liked both novels though I found Red Harvest to be the more interesting and unique of the two.  I would recommend them to people who like to read mysteries or watch crime dramas.  There is some violence in both, though more so in the second, who doesn’t like seventy bajillion shoot outs, that’s right seventy bajillion.  (This is what happens when I don’t have enough sleep)

I hope you guys are having a great week and I talk to you soon, the Pied Piper is always calling.


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