The Maltese Falcon

Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The Maltese Falcon
A murder involves Sam Spade in a dangerous search for a valuable statue.

Publisher: New York : Vintage Books, 1992
Edition: 1st Vintage crimeBlack Lizard ed
ISBN: 0679740945
Branch Call Number: MYSTERY H
Characteristics: 217 p. ; 21 cm.


From Library Staff

The classic hard-boiled detective novel featuring private investigator Sam Spade.

List - NYPL Hardboiled by: nypl_roosevelt_island May 08, 2012

Detective Sam Spade must slove his partner's murder while dealing with 3 flamboyant crooks, a lying seductress, and a mysterious black statuette of a bird.

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Mar 18, 2015
  • EuSei rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

I enjoyed the movie (where Humphrey Bogart played an excellent Sam spade) more than the book. (I felt the same with "The Thin Man.") I guess I just don't like super "hard-boiled dicks" with an excessively cold demeanor and zero conscience (i.e., the nowadays considered unfashionable power to differentiate right from wrong). Hammett uses a lot of minutely detailed description of what each character in the scene is doing, every little blink is recorded. Gets a bit tiresome after a while. But it is a good book, nevertheless.

Feb 09, 2014
  • Bududo rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

The Maltese Falcon is probably the best known of the Sam Spade stories. This is a real gem. The language, situations, and changes in fortune make this book an outstanding read.

Oct 24, 2013
  • InvernessS rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

Audio in play form, not read by...lots of sound effects kind of jarred by ears. Hammett is considered the primo of early detective/crime writers. His life story is more interesting than his writing.

Oct 22, 2013

I found an old copy at my library’s used book sale and thought “What the hell?” I never would have read it if I hadn’t tripped over it. I think I enjoyed it more for the glimpse into the past than for the actual plot. It’s a classic, no doubt about it, and I can appreciate it for such, much as one would appreciate a fine work of art in a museum. A large part of what may have shocked readers when it first came out may be considered “old hat” to the modern reader.

Jul 23, 2012
  • Roxannajayc rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

One of the best detective novels of the 20th century.

Oct 07, 2011
  • lisastitch rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

A classic--and the beginning of the hard-boiled detective genre.

Aug 03, 2011
  • turveydrop rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Not always knowing what's going on = suspense.

Jan 03, 2011
  • lisahiggs rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Hammett has the same eye for people that Sam Spade has – their looks, their demeanor, their actions. Unfortunately while he describes everything that Spade sees, he never describes what Spade thinks. When smiling-eyed red-headed Brigid O’Shaughnessy brings Sam a case, the detective might know that he can’t take the facts at face value, but the reader doesn’t. We ride with Spade along the mean streets of San Francisco as he furiously tries to figure out what is going on, but he has the distinct advantage of being an experienced detective while we are (or at least I am) just an inexperienced observer. Spade is confused and frustrated by the mystery at hand, but without Spade’s experience the reader is even more confused and frustrated.

Luckily the writing is so cool, so slick, so polished, that staring at it for a few hours is still a pleasure.

Dec 08, 2010
  • e_long rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This is where you need to start. If you haven't read this, you don't know Noir!


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Detective Sam Spade becomes embroiled with a mysterious client, avenges the death of his partner, and chases a priceless treasure, in this classic American private-eye novel. 224p.

Sep 30, 2009

Blamed by the police for his partner's death, hard-boiled detective Sam Spade searches for a stolen Middle Eastern statuette.


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Jan 03, 2011
  • lisahiggs rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Samuel Spade’s jaw was long and bony, his chin a jutting V under the more flexible V of his mouth. His nostrils curved back to make another, smaller, V. His yellow-grey eyes were horizontal. The V motif was picked up again by thickish brows rising outward from twin creases above a hooked nose, and his pale brown hair grew down – from high flat temples – in a point on his forehead. He looked rather pleasantly like a blond satan.

Jan 03, 2011
  • lisahiggs rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

“I want you to know that I couldn’t be any fonder of you if you were my own son; but – well, by Gad! – if you lose a son it’s possible to get another – and there’s only one Maltese falcon.”


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The Maltese Falcon
Hammett, Dashiell, 1894-1961
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