The Maltese Falcon
By Dashiell Hammett
Why this book?
This might be the easiest No. 1 in the history of No. 1s. Falcon is the gold standard of hardboiled detective fiction, the blueprint mystery-PI writers have faithfully followed for damn near a century now. Falcon lets PI Sam Spade careen into the world, a new kind of tough-guy anti-hero hero, tight-lipped, wisecracking, violent, street-smart, with devastatingly sexy femme fatales, cheerfully amoral and very witty bad guys. The best part? Sure, the novel is better than the movie. It usually is. No, it’s the prose: Minimal, evocative, more so than even Hemingway. Hammett lets the story play out through the dialogue and action, not internal dialogue or literary devices, and still manages to create distinct characters. Spade’s lines can also be funny as hell, which Hemingway’s never were.
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