The Maltese Falcon

May 29, 2009
By Nicholas Manchanthasouk BRONZE, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota
Nicholas Manchanthasouk BRONZE, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota
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The Maltese Falcon

I read the book The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammet. This book was published in 1934 by the Franklin Library and is 188 pages long. It takes place in San Francisco, California and is about a detective who receives an interesting case full of fallacies and little specifics. His client wants him to follow someone. In my opinion, this is an entertaining mystery story because it starts out without much to comprehend from the reader, and then Hammet begins to tie things together as the story progresses, and you delve deeper into the mystery.

The book begins with the main characters, Spade and Archer receiving a beautiful young female client who has a case for him. She wants him to follow a man whom his sister ran away from home with. Spade sends Archer to tail the man and watch their client since they are going to meet up. The next day Spade receives a phone call that his partner is dead. Shortly after, they find out that the man whom he was following was killed. The woman tells him that her story was a lie, and her name was an alias, but she still doesn’t tell him her real name. She still pleads to Spade to help her, though she doesn’t give the details why.
As the story progresses, Spade soon finds out he is being followed, and he meets a man in his office that puts a gun to his head. He is called Cairo and comes asking for Spade to retrieve a figurine for him. It is a black falcon shaped statuette. He says he is willing to offer $5,000 cash for it. Spade ends up taking the gun from him and knocks the Cairo out. He finds out that Cairo and his client are associated with each other. He also finds that the guy that is following him was hired by another man who is also associated with this figurine. Spade learns that the figurine is really worth more, and that he will receive $10,000 dollars in cash when he brings it to them. Not too soon after, the guy who is following him confronts him and wants him to meet the person who hired him. The man is obese and named Gutman, and he talks about the falcon. He tells that it is worth millions, if not more. Also that he wants Spade to get it for him and if he does he’ll give him a large sum of the profit that he receives. From there, Spade finds out that all three of his clients have something to do with one another.

Here are some reasons why I find this book interesting. One reason is how there are so many twists and turns you will never know what is going to happen next. One example is in the beginning how the author has his client tell him a false story; I thought that was what the book was going to be about. Another is how the author wrote very detailed action scenes, “Spade’s elbow dropped as Spade spun to the right, Cairo’s face jerked back not far enough: Spade’s right heel on the patent-leathered toes anchored the small man in the elbow’s path. The elbow struck him beneath the cheek bone, staggering him so that he must have fallen had he not been held by Spade’s foot on his foot. Spade’s elbow went on past the astonished dark face and straightened when Spade’s hand struck down at the pistol. Cairo let the pistol go the instant Spade’s fingers touched it. The pistol was small in Spade’s hand.”(Hammet 38) One other reason I enjoyed this book is how the cops had so little trust in him, “I hope to god you know what you’re doing,” (Hammet 70). One of the cops said that as they were leaving Spade’s home. They had barged in when one of his clients yelled for help. Spade’s clients got into a fight, and the cops stopped it. They wanted to know what was going on so the Lieutenant asked for their addresses. The cops only received the man’s address (Cairo) because Spade said the woman (Brigid) was under his protection. Spade had them leave after that and they complied. I liked this part because it shows that the cops don’t trust Spade that much, but they still believe he is good enough at his job to be left alone to do as he wishes. A final reason why I liked this book is how the author makes it seem like Spade is an antagonist, accepting money offerings from possible criminals as a private detective. “The v motif was picked up again by thickish brows rising outward from twin creases above a hooked nose, and his pale brown hair grew down—from high flat temples—in a point on his forehead. He looked rather pleasantly like a blonde satan.”(Hammet 1) That description of Spade, especially the part about looking like a blond satan, gives me the impression that he is an antagonist.

To conclude this book is an enticing mystery that leaves you confused at times, but later makes things more clear as you get farther. Hammet’s tale has great detail and lots of action.

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