Friday, February 24, 2012

Audiobook Review: The Maltese Falcon

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett, read by William Dufris, 2011 (originally published in 1930). 9 discs (7 hours). Published by AudioGo. Source: Audiobook Jukebox/Publisher.
Sam Spade, Dashiell Hammett's archetypally tough San Francisco detective, is more noir than L.A. Confidential and more vulnerable than Raymond Chandler's Marlowe. In The Maltese Falcon, the best known of Hammett's Sam Spade novels (including The Dain Curse and The Glass Key), Spade is tough enough to bluff the toughest thugs and hold off the police, risking his reputation when a beautiful woman begs for his help, while knowing that betrayal may deal him a new hand in the next moment.
Spade's partner is murdered on a stakeout; the cops blame him for the killing; a beautiful redhead with a heartbreaking story appears and disappears; grotesque villains demand a payoff he can't provide; and everyone wants a fabulously valuable gold statuette of a falcon, created as tribute for the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV. Who has it? And what will it take to get it back? Spade's solution is as complicated as the motives of the seekers assembled in his hotel room, but the truth can be a cold comfort indeed.
First Sentence:
Samuel Spade's jaw was long and bony, his chin a jutting v under the more flexible v of his mouth.
After finishing The Thin Man the other week, I was relly looking forward to listening to The Maltese Falcon since I knew that it would be better then the other one with characters that had more personality, plus it was nice to revisit a book that I haven't read in ages.

What sets The Maltese Falcon apart from The Thin Man? Well that would have to be that there's more interaction between the various suspects and the main character, also that the characters had more depth and personality (even Spade). As you probably remember, I did not care too much for the characters in Hammett's last book because I found them lacking in detail, but that was not the case in the book. I felt that the cast of characters was definitely stronger and that the story had a better flow, with more twists and turns to keep one of their feet.

The mystery of the Maltese Falcon-the statue- was one of the things that first drew me to wnating to read this book a few years back. And, while the mystery is pretty top-notch in The Maltese Falcon I just do not think that I truely like the hard-boiled detectives because the all seem to be cut out of the same mold, a mold that I do not find enjoyable.

Sam Spade, while not the most likeable character that I ahve read, I did think that he was a pretty good detective. Although not nearly as good as Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot. What made him an interesting detective was that he seemed to be able to get the suspects to confide a little something about what was going in him. While he was pretty good at finding out what was what, I did not really care for him as an individule because he was a bit of a womanizer.
Brigid, if you've read The Maltese Falcon then I am sure that you know just how devious she is, and that she has no qualms about using her femenine charms to wrap men around her finger and take the fall for her. That being said, I found myself not really liking her, but intrigued nonetheless because I wanted to see how things would go for her.
By far, my favorite character would have to Effie. What I liked about her was that she seemed to have her head firmly attached and did not come across as flighty...although how she could put up with Spade is beyond me.

What I did like about The Maltese Falcon would have to be that the mystery had a lot of layers, and that it was notall too clear who was playing whom to what end. I thought that Mr. Hamett definitely a great job in respect to the mysterious elements of this book; such that when I did have time to listen to it I only had a vague idea how thinsg were going to play out.

I can easily tell you what I did not like about The Maltese Falcon, which just so happenes to be one of the things I did not like about the other book of Dashiell Hammett's that I read. I was not too impressed with the way that Mr. Hammett portrayed women.
Frankly, it does not seem like he tink too highly of them...the same feeling I get when reading Shakespeare. I could be reading into this wrong, but I just do not think that all the females in his books-at least the two I've read- need to be shallow, coniving, or as sheltered as they were. Although, we are talking about a book that was written in the 1930s, so I'll let him off the hook this one time.

So, while I did not particularily care for Mr. Dufris' narration in The Thin Man, but I think that he was absolutely spot on on his reading of The Maltese Falcon and its main character, Sam Spade. He did a really good job of portraying his gruff personality, and did not do too shabby of a job on the various characters of the cast...with an exception for the female characters. I just do not think that he is cut it to read the occasional female character because they all tend to sound a little ditzy.

While listening to The Maltese Falcon, I was quite surprised to find myself laughing out loud (in the quiet of the house) over the "Fat Man" and the way that Mr. Dufris read him. The reason I found it so funny was that the "Fat Man" ended up sounding like Mojo-Jojo from The Powerpuff Girls, especially when he was excitedly talking about the Maltese Falcon. Good times.

Final Verdict: The Maltese Falcon, an thoroughly enjoyable mystery.

The Maltese Falcon earns 4 out of 5 pineapples.

You can see my (really old) review of The Maltese Falcon (not the audiobook)...if you want.

1 comment:

  1. Very cool review. I enjoyed reading it. I saw the movie a long time ago, but was never interested enough to read the book.


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