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Return of the Thin Man: Two never-before-published novellas featuring Nick & Nora Charles Hardcover – November 6, 2012


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Editorial Reviews

Review

PRAISE FOR RETURN OF THE THIN MAN

"This first unabridged appearance of two Nick and Nora Charles 'novellas' by Hammett should be an occasion for delight, and it is." —The Wall Street Journal

"Read Return of the Thin Man and rediscover why Dashiell Hammett was the peerless master of crime fiction in all its dark and bloody glory." —New York Journal of Books

"A volume no fan of Hammett's, of Nick and Nora Charles, of 'The Thin Man' series should even think of doing without." —The Huffington Post

PRAISE FOR DASHIELL HAMMETT

"I think Hammett's stories are about the best there are." —Ross MacDonald

"Hammett's prose was clean and entirely unique. His characters were as sharply and economically defined as any in American fiction." —The New York Times

"Hammett . . . wrote scenes that seemed never to have been written before." —Raymond Chandler

"The exuberance of language, the relish with which seedieness is described . . . it's a pleasure to imagine young Hammett cutting loose with whatever rascally high jinks he could cook up." —Margaret Atwood

"An acknowledged literary landmark." —The New York Times Book Review

About the Author

Dashiell Hammett was an American author of hard-boiled detective novels and short stories, screenplay writer, and political activist. He created enduring characters including Sam Spade (The Maltese Falcon), Nick and Nora Charles (The Thin Man), and the Continental Op (Red Harvest and The Dain Curse).
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Mysterious Press; 1St Edition edition (November 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802120504
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802120502
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #504,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Terry Sunday TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The subject of this book surely needs no introduction to fans of the late Dashiell Hammett, who remains one of America's most-renowned crime fiction writers even more than 50 years after his death. Hammett created many memorable characters (in all senses of the word), including detective Sam Spade and the Continental Op. But arguably his most popular characters are the bantering husband-and-wife duo of Nick and Nora Charles as featured in the "Thin Man" series of books and motion pictures.

Many fascinating facts about Hammett's characters come to light in the commentaries to three previously unpublished Thin Man stories in "Return of the Thin Man." The Introduction, Headnotes and Afterwords in this volume provide interesting contextual details to "After the Thin Man," "Another Thin Man" and "Sequel to the Thin Man." The commentaries make "Return of the Thin Man" more worth reading than the stories themselves, in my opinion, because the "stories" are not really stories--two of them are screenplays and the third is what probably would be called today a "treatment." "After the Thin Man" (108 pages) and "Another Thin Man" (92 pages) feature good descriptions of the appearances of characters and scene elements, and much of Hammett's trademark snappy dialogue simply follows a colon after the name of the character who speaks it. What's missing are insights into the thought processes and internal feelings of the characters. These two stories are purely audio-visual. They describe what the audience would see on the screen, and what the characters would say, but nothing about the WHY of their actions. As such, they lack the vital layers of narrative information that would make them true novelettes.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful By W. Sanders VINE VOICE on September 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Some years ago I read Dashiell Hammett's "The Maltese Falcon" and then saw the movie of the same name (not for the first time.) I was surprised by how closely the dialogue in the movie matched that in the book, and both the movie and book are tops as far as I'm concerned. So, it was with great joy that I found "Return of the Thin Man" touted as two novellas. Now I don't care whether a book is a full-blown book or a novella, I was looking forward to reading a never-before-published novella by Dashiell Hammett.

What is touted as a "novella" is in fact, a screenplay. For example:

Nick: "Thanks."
Polly and the detective go out.
Abrams: "That mean anything to you?"

After reading several pages, I came to the painful realization, that this is not a novella. It's a screenplay. I'd even take a thinly disguised novella, but the more I read, the more that I realized that this was not going to turn into a novella because I read more. Quite the opposite. It became clearer that it stayed a screenplay. (On the inside title page, the material is referred to as "Original Screen Stories," but the differences between a screen story and a screenplay must be subtle, and neither reads as a novel or even a novella.)

Richard Layman's introduction is excellent and so is some of the end material that tells the story of how the author and the studio came to produce the movie and got Hammett to write the stories. However, screenplays (or screen stories) just don't stack up to novels as readable for me. Maybe actors, directors or screenplay writers may like this kind of thing, but for me it was like reading the recipe for pumpkin pie. Just didn't do it.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kevin L. Nenstiel TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Dashiell Hammett is famous for rebuilding the mystery genre away from mere intellectual puzzles, into complex realms of psychological realism. But he only published five novels. So when a publisher claims to have discovered two previously unknown novellas in his personal papers, you can imagine the excitement among mystery fans worldwide. And I can imagine the disappointment they'll feel when they actually read these stories.

Hammett's fifth and final novel, The Thin Man, differs from his prior works in its sense of humor. The culture clash between hard-bitten, alcoholic Nick Charles, and his glamorous wife Nora's old-money world, enlivened by the kind of quick banter Hammett perfected, remains funny decades later. That's saying something, since humor doesn't age well. Not for nothing is the movie adaptation, starring William Powell and Myrna Loy, considered classic.

But by the time The Thin Man hit shelves, Hammett had already grown bored of his own fame. Publishers, fans, movie studios, and paparazzi all thought they owned a piece of him. He felt estranged from the world he wrote about, and cared more about leftist politics than about his six-book contract, which remained incomplete at his death, nearly twenty years later. A known drunk with a razor tongue, Hammett was turning into Nick Charles.

These two novellas, written under contract for MGM, provide a glimpse into a mind on the verge of collapse. But calling them novellas does them, and Hammett, an injustice. These are screen treatments that the studio would turn into the movies After the Thin Man and Another Thin Man. And they look like exactly what they are, screen treatments. Hammett dedicates all his energy to action and dialog, and none to the atmospherics that make his novels so powerful.
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