Review: The Maltese Falcon

Me reading the Maltese Falcon is something long overdue.  The movie is one of those in competition to be my favorite film, and probably every third book I read has been influenced by it in some way.  But coming to it from that perspective made for a slightly odd reading experience.

I like to think I’m pretty good at being able to judge different manifestations of a single story on their own merits, but this time I just couldn’t do it.  Dashiell Hammett’s whole shtick as an author was to use as few words as possible to tell a story.  The Falcon is a fairly short novel, considering that it’s possibly the cleverest crime novel ever written with its allegiances that shift seemlessly between pages and the amazing word play between the characters of Sam Spade and Casper Gutman.  But I totally failed to not hear Bogart and Greenstreet in my head while reading the book, and as for the condensed narrative, after the movie the lengthy descriptions in the novel feel out of place.

So I’m sorry but I don’t think I can really review this book objectively.  Suffice to say it is a classic of the form, probably the classic, and deservedly so.  But if given the option, read the book first for best results.

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