The Maltese Falcon

by Dashiell Hammett

The Maltese Falcon is a fun read a bit reminiscent of The Postman Always Rings Twice, which appears earlier on the list. Both are 1930's-era crime dramas, but the former offers a detective as the protagonist, while the latter is narrated by a criminal. Note that I didn't use the words "good guy" and "bad guy" in contrasting the two: It's never that black and white (except maybe in the movies).

This book is readable, with a plot you can sink your teeth into. It's a detective story, a mystery, a tale that keeps you guessing. It sports well developed characters, with the protagonist being none other than the venerable household name, "Sam Spade." The writing is also very dated genre literature. When multiple characters are in a room together and one of them is female, the men are named by name, title, or sobriquet. But the female character is always, "The girl." If same said group of characters spend enough time in said room to get hungry, it's invariably "the girl" who is sent to the kitchen to make the coffee & sandwiches. I guess it's important to note that although the gender roles are anachronistic to today's reader, for all her relegation in the mundane parts of the plot, "the girl" is one of the toughest bad guys you'll ever run across! After all, you can pistol whip a guy, but even Sam Spade is left nearly defenseless against "the girl." Touché, I guess, but "the girl" as little woman in the kitchen and "the girl" as femme fatale are still both stereotypes. Then again, so is Sam Spade, Private Eye. What do you want? Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon is genre literature. Classic Bitch will have trouble ranking it for that reason, but as to you, dear readers: Just sit back and enjoy the read.