Sunday, 15 December 2013

2013 Top Ten Best Reads - Number 5

Dashiell Hammett
It's been a lovely mild Sunday. The dogs have been playing in the yard while I watched the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award show on line, presented by the lovely Gabby Logan, Gary Lineker and Clare Balding, and wrapped presents. Very nice day it was. Just waiting for the missus to come home from her day out and biding time until I feed the puppies (they are watching me impatiently). So it's that time of day to present my Number 5 best read of 2013.

This book is also a reread. It's been probably 20 years since I read it last as part of a Dashiell Hammett compendium. It had stories like Red Harvest and The Thin Man, amongst others. I traded it in quite awhile ago, but in Mar 2012, I found a copy of The Maltese Falcon, the edition you can see above, at the Comox Valley Book Fair. As part of my Alphabetical Mystery Writer challenge, I have been working through the H's this year for the most part and luckily for me, this one came up. I enjoyed so very much reading it again. It's a classic of the hard-boiled mystery genre and made Sam Spade a household name. It didn't hurt also that Humphrey Bogart did such an excellent job portraying Sam in the movie of the same name.

For those who've never read the story before, this is the synopsis on the back of this edition, "A treasure worth killing for. Sam Spade, a slightly shopworn private eye with his own solitary code of ethics. A perfumed grafter named Joel Cairo, a fat man name Gutman, and Brigid O'Shaughnessy, a beautiful and treacherous woman whose loyalties shift at the drop of a dime. These are the ingredients of Dashiell Hammett's coolly glittering gem of detective fiction, a novel that has haunted three generations of readers." That's the plot in a nutshell. Many twists and turns, much back stabbing and Sam Spade the hard bitten private eye must navigate the plots and suspicious pathways to figure out what the Maltese Falcon is and who has it and what's it worth. Great story, great movie, just great stuff.

This is the review I wrote for my Goodread's bookshelf, "I've read before and was very happy to enjoy as much again this time. Dashiell Hammett has produced an excellent example of a hard-boiled mystery and Sam Spade is the penultimate gumshoe, staying one step ahead of trouble and playing off the baddies against each other. It's a classic mystery, turned into an excellent movie by John Huston, one of Humphrey Bogart's best movies. A great cast of characters, from Brigid O'Shaughnessy to Joel Cairo and Kasper Gutman, through his faithful, lovely secretary, Effie Perine. A story that everyone should read and marvel about." Probably not added a whole heck of a lot. Suffice it to say that Hammett is an excellent writer and has turned out an exceptional mystery.

Enjoy! Number 4 or 2013 comes up tomorrow. :0)

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