“The Maltese Falcon” by Dashiell Hammett was chosen for the Wall Street Journal Book Club in early March. I was pretty excited about the choice as I really enjoy mysteries. A book centered on the search for an invaluable artifact with a private detective as the main character – count me in. Add in a description of “a treasure worth killing for” and my interest was certainly peaked.
Right away I liked Detective Sam Spade, he’s both smooth and blunt, and overall entertaining. When a girl comes to him and his partner needing undefined help, he is consistent in his behavior towards her and he doesn’t allow her looks to distract him from her dishonesty. ““I mean that you paid us more than if you’d been telling the truth,” he explained blandly, “and enough more to make it all right.”” (The Maltese Falcon, pg 33). I liked that he calls her out right away for not telling the truth. I also enjoy his cavalier method of explaining things, not just to her but to everyone around him. Lying is a constant for all the characters in “The Maltese Falcon” including Sam Spade. It made reading “The Maltese Falcon” slightly challenging trying to keep up with what the truth was to each character.
I found the girl, Bridget O’Shaughnessy to be annoying as her loyalties and her story change from one minute to the next. But it certainly kept the book interesting. Despite my personal dislike of Bridget O’Shaughnessy, I did enjoy her interactions with the other characters in the novel, especially Sam Spade. She plays the innocent, docile woman but always has an ulterior motive and Sam calls her out on it. “What have you given me besides money? Have you given me any of your confidence? any of the truth? any help in helping you? Haven’t you tried to buy my loyalty with money and nothing else? Well, if I’m peddling it, why shouldn’t I let it go to the highest bidder?” (The Maltese Falcon, pg 57).
Would I recommend this book? Yes, especially to those that enjoy a mystery. It was more challenging to read than I had initial anticipated, mainly because it was a little difficult to determine when characters were actually speaking the truth at first, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. It’s a book that keeps you guessing to the last page. I am absolutely going to be adding the rest of the books written by Dashiell Hammett to my reading list and I would probably pick this book up again for a reread.