Why You Should Read The Maltese Falcon Book Right Now?

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The Maltese Falcon
  • Great product!
  • Dashiell Hammett (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 217 Pages - 08/01/1992 (Publication Date) - Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (Publisher)

Last update on 2023-01-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

So you’re thinking of reading The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett? Would it help if I share my two cents on the book before you go on and buy it? For starters, The Maltese Falcon is a classic American Literary History book. It’s a crime, thriller, and detective novel. Why You Should Read The Maltese Falcon Book Right Now? 

It’s about Sam Spade, the protagonist of the story who is also a private detective, and a crusade to find the jewel-crusted bird – a prize that causes much mystery and murder.

For a suspense and crime novel, The Maltese Falcon Book is an absolute page-turner! But I’m going to uncover a lot more without giving away the spoils to you, fellow reader!

You know it’s a classy and thrilling novel when a detective doesn’t have to seek problems in order to solve them; the troubles simply just find him. And that’s the kind of story The Maltese Falcon is. Hammett’s engrossing writing makes a cold and seductive novel worth every dime and time you’ve put into it.

And if this helps in strengthening your resolve for buying the book at all. There have been countless film adaptations of Hammett’s story. He is thought of as one of the most influential writers to help kickstart the hard-boiled and noir detective fiction in cinema.

One could read The Maltese Falcon book over and over again. And still not get tired of its well-versed, distinct, and impeccable characters. 

What Hammett’s writing in the Maltese Falcon book did was it turned the impression of detective novels. Because at the time of publication, writers only wrote empty, lifeless, and stereotypical detective stories. And same-old, run-of-the-mill chases sequences. Nothing new, in short.

But Hammett’s story is refreshing. It has a visual and imaginative element. In that, the words come alive with an amazing protagonist and his passionate, existential, and cynical conquests.

Don’t you just love it when a crime and detective have a psychological edge to its story? That’s just how The Maltese Falcon is.

The best thing that Hammett ever did was create a realistic and “human” protagonist. He created a character that possessed flaws and a kind of sentimentality that is even in the most iron-willed persons are endowed with. And it’s this imperfection that is not a character flaw that simply elevates the whole narrative of the story! And why readers love reading it.

Much of Hammett’s characters are drawn, even if in fragments, from his own interests and psychology. Sam Spade, the private detected in The Maltese Falcon, is flamboyant, passionate, and quite untamed. And his involvement, or you could also say immersion, in the story makes for vivid and existential fiction. The kind that you won’t find so easily in other crime novels.

Though the book does have a few drawbacks that aren’t specifically deal-breakers. But they do affect the reading of the story – especially for a first-time reader. It’s literature but with a few imperfections. 

The one flaw that really stands out is the book’s portrayal of women. It’s not toxic masculinity. However, the muscular prose and cold dialogue do feel a bit obsolete and dry. They seem like they’ve been added for hyping up the literary narrative of a male detective story. 

However, the fact that the book includes a strong and devious female character reclaims the classic status of the book. And as with any piece of literature, whether or not you like a book, also depends on how you read it. Am I right?

No amount of words can describe to you the brilliance of Hammett’s writing but his words:

“Joel Cairo: You always have a very smooth explanation ready.

Sam Spade: What do you want me to do, learn to stutter?”

I don’t know about you but this is a very taut and intense line of prose. It hits the sweet spot because of the carefully-plucked and persuasive words. 

In the book, Joel Cairo hires Sam Spade to find a statue of a bird – which is the Maltese falcon. This is when he finds out that the statue is in fact jewel-encrusted. What follows next are a series of murders – and the rest you’ll find out once you read this book. 

If you’re reading this far, that means you are seriously considering reading this book. And I tell you with confidence that this is a stimulating and impressive book. It has elements of the hero and anti-hero personality. 

The writing is so vivid and physical. It has a cinematic quality almost. Because the story jumps up out of the pages and into your mind. It has personality, poise, and grit. And most interesting of all, that Dashiell Hammett is famously known for, is his technique.   

It’s not enough to have cooked up a great story, as a writer. But to employ the proper writing style and language to bring that story to life. And a story like The Maltese Falcon book embodies everything a reader wants in a crime and detective novel. 

You have to read just one more excerpt from the book. This proves the quality and tenor of Hammett’s writing:

“Cairo tried to spit in Spade’s face, but the dryness of Levantine’s mouth made it only an angry gesture. Spade slapped the mouth, cutting the lower lip.” 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Is there a sequel to this book? 

The Maltese Falcon exists as a stand-alone novel. You do not have to read Hammett’s earlier works to get started on the Maltese Falcon. If you’re new to the detective-murder-mystery world of Hammett’s then you should know that the Maltese Falcon is the best book there is to get hooked to his writing. 

The book has many plots and subplots that are in no way overwhelming or confused for the reader. And if you want to intensify your understanding of the story, I would also recommend watching the film adaptation. The film streamlines the essence of the story perfectly.

2. Is this book good for teenagers to read?

You can read this as a teenager or gift it to somebody who is a teenager. The language does get a bit obscene in some parts but that’s nothing to worry about. Unless the teenager you’re planning on giving the book to doesn’t understand the intent of such a crime-noir novel. It may be a bit too much for a naive and heedless teen. 

The thing about the Maltese Falcon book is that Hammett’s writing makes it quite complex. He jots down the characters’ histories, thoughts, emotions, and character traits all in one book. So there are many character arcs that you need to navigate as you read. 

This is not intimidating for an adult reader. But for a teen probably reading the Maltese Falcon for the first time. It may be a bit too excessive. 

3. Is the Maltese Falcon worth reading?

Hammett introduces a psychological character into the narrative of a run-down “crime-detective” story. And that is a good reason why even experienced readers should read this book. Because it’s not something most crime noir readers are used to. It’s new and refreshing!

Hammett’s character descriptions of the private detective are outstanding. They form an archetype which for a reader is an excellent gateway for crime-noir fiction books. 

The story is structured in such a way that it’s full of suspenseful twists, betrayals, and cliffhangers. Just like a televised show about a hardy private detective solving crimes. While also being chased down by the “anti-hero” of the story, the antagonist, in search of something prized.

Final Thoughts

I guess this sums up this Maltese Falcon book review. I could go on and on about how Hammett uses Sam Spade to personify the descriptions of good and evil. How, as far as the law is concerned, the progression of the story is startling, tenacious, and vivid.

Despite the minor blemishes, there’s nothing about this book you won’t love. With such a powerful and provocative character, every act and sudden development in the story feels too real. The way the story is narrated is deeply reflective and spine-chilling. 

And if you look a little deeper, you’ll have more questions than answers. That’s just the kind of writer Dashiell Hammett is. And the more you read him, the more you’ll love him for it.  

Even if you want to stop reading because it’s the end of the day, you won’t be able to. Because every page acts as a cliffhanger. And you want to know what happens next. The next thing you know, you’re reading all night and you sleep in the next day!

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