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75 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Real Nick and Nora
Forget those movies. They took a grimly funny novel about a group of predatory monsters and turned it into a series of light comedies. As splendid as William Powell and Myrna Loy are, they cannot hold a candle to the Nick and Nora portrayed in this novel.
Hammett did not write a novel about a sophisticated couple who genteelly solve a murder while pouring...
Published on July 7, 1999 by Tom From NY

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars DO NOT BUY THIS KINDLE EDITION, PERIOD
DO NOT buy the Kindle edition of The Thin Man. Reading this cheap Kindle version is like walking a path that ought to have been cleared through the jungle for us but turns out instead to be overgrown with vines. Several other one-star reviewers are exactly right about this but maybe they're not adamant enough. Not only does Nora's name appear here as "Nona," it...
Published 7 months ago by N. Andreassen


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75 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Real Nick and Nora, July 7, 1999
By 
Tom From NY "Tom From NY" (New York, NY United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Thin Man (Paperback)
Forget those movies. They took a grimly funny novel about a group of predatory monsters and turned it into a series of light comedies. As splendid as William Powell and Myrna Loy are, they cannot hold a candle to the Nick and Nora portrayed in this novel.
Hammett did not write a novel about a sophisticated couple who genteelly solve a murder while pouring cocktails and trading quips. He wrote a dark novel about an ex-detective who has married a wildly wealthy woman, and wants to spend the rest of his life managing her money. He is only faintly connected to the murders, having known the victim and his family briefly several years before, and wants nothing to do with the whole business. He is continually dragged in, however, and very nearly becomes a victim himself. Even a cursory reading of the novel should demonstrate that Hammett was up to much more than a series of one-liners with detective interruptions. Why else would Hammett, one of the most economical of authors, bring the novel to a halt to include a case history of Alfred Packer, the only American convicted of the crime of cannibalism?
There is much more here than Hollywood, or anyone else that I know of, has yet realized.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my very favorite books!, August 1, 2008
By 
Ty Davis (Edgewood, RI) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Thin Man (Paperback)
Boy, these reviews are all over the place, aren't they! Well, they at least give you the plot so I don't have to. Here are some quick comments:

There is so much going on in this book that most people miss much of it the first time (as these reviews show), especially if they don't know Hammett's life. As noted, Hammett modeled Nick and Nora on himself and his paramour, budding playwright Lillian Hellman, so it's interesting to see how he dealt in fiction with their relationship and his ultimate failure to cope with success.

Yet, "The Thin Man" works - and works well - as a straight, hard-boiled detective novel, too (which is why none of the characters are particularly likeable). Also, Nora, one of the few, strong female detectives of the pulp magazine era, has inspired countless woman (including Myrna Loy) through the decades.

Hammett's sparse style of writing, which many critics (including myself) think Hemingway merely popularized, revolutionized American literature. Each of Hammett's words had to do its part. Similarly, unlike those of earlier detective novels, Hammett's characters committed murder and other mayhem for actual reasons! The notion greatly affected Chandler, Macdonald, and all the others who toiled in the garden Hammett created. His books are all classics of American literature.

Some of these reviewers have made too much of the "alcoholism" in the book. Fact is, a certain, large segment of society in the `30s - products of Prohibition - did (or wanted to) drink the way the book's characters do and thought nothing of it. Basically, everybody drank in those days. Even the President of the United States had a bootlegger.

To my mind, an alcoholic is a person who drinks because he or she _has_ to; these characters drink because they _want_ to. Those revisionist Puritan reviewers just don't understand the context of the drinking in "The Thin Man".

Speaking of Puritans, the city of Boston banned "The Thin Man" upon release (thereby greatly increasing its sales) because Nora asks Nick if he got an erection while wrestling with one of the female characters. The word - heard without reaction on TV and in the movies these days - was simply too much for the city fathers. ("Just a little one" Nick answered, if memory serves.) The movie producers could not chance a similar ban on the movie so they cut a lot of the dark humor out of it but introduced Hammett to a lot of people over the world. The problems come when the viewers don't realize the book and the movies are two very different animals.

I would love to see "The Thin Man" made into a movie now - when the producers would respect the work while employing fantastic production values. I'm sure they would remember that Hammett's "The Maltese Falcon" did not succeed as a movie until the third try when new producer John Huston wisely utilized most of Hammett's cutting but sparkling dialogue.

Hammett wrote five novels and, while they share similar traits, each one is different from the others and each one is an American classic. "The Thin Man" sees an older, wiser, possibly drunker, Hammett playfully poking fun at himself, Hellman, and the genre he mostly created while staying within the confines of that genre - a difficult trick. "The Thin Man", the most commercially successful of the five, can stand proudly next to its brothers. You'll enjoy it!
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hammett's last - a good read, July 6, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Thin Man (Paperback)
I believe it was F. Scott Fitzgerald who once said, "Hammett is one of those good writers ruined by Hollywood." This book shows Fitzgerald's quote in action.
Don't misunderstand me, 'The Thin Man' is an excellent story. It's amuzing, tense, and contains possibly Hammett's most memorable characters, but it's also a complete departure from his previous novels. In a way, 'The Thin Man' is a farewell. Here we have a once hard-boiled detective, Nick Charles, who has settled down with his wise-cracking wife, Nora, and doesn't want anything to do with his previous work. Instead, Nick drinks, and drinks, and drinks, and goes to parties, and hosts parties, and the like. Whenever anyone questions Nick over the case that he's rumored to be working, Nick simply claims that he doesn't want anything to do with being a detective and leaves it at that.
This being Hammett's final novel, I believe that it an all too valid assumption that Hammett was using the character of Nick to symbolize himself and his own mentality. To connect this with Fitzgerald's comment, following the publication of 'The Thin Man', some movie studio handed Hammett a check for something like $40,000 for use of the characters, cementing his literary decrepitude, and he never worked again.
But it is a good read, very good, and while I would have liked to have given it the full five stars, i've chosen to remain with four, as 'The Thin Man' just doesn't compare with many of Hammett's other classics.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent and funny ;achieves greatness, March 15, 2005
By 
JR (New York) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Thin Man (Paperback)
This is one of the best crime novels ever written because it transcends the genre so beautifully, you won't even care about the mystery plot. The characters make it biting, strong and unforgettable, freaks and weirdos alike... Nick and Nora Charles are 2 of the most perfect literary creations in all of fiction. Hollywood cleaned them up a little and made them classy social lushes, but in their original written form, they're cynical, world weary wise acres. Their heavy drinking only adds to the book's appeal. Dashielle dedicated it to his long time love Lillian Hellman, as she, in turn, dedicated a few of her plays to him. The Maltese Falcon is the most famous of Hammett's works, The Daine Curse, his most complicated, Red Harvest, his most violent, The Glass Key, his most bitter. But the Thin Man is the most entertaining. You'll feel like reading it with a bottle of booze at your side.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars DO NOT BUY THIS KINDLE EDITION, PERIOD, August 2, 2014
By 
N. Andreassen (Arizona, United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Thin Man (Kindle Edition)
DO NOT buy the Kindle edition of The Thin Man. Reading this cheap Kindle version is like walking a path that ought to have been cleared through the jungle for us but turns out instead to be overgrown with vines. Several other one-star reviewers are exactly right about this but maybe they're not adamant enough. Not only does Nora's name appear here as "Nona," it also appears as "Noma." More than half of the paragraph returns are missing, so, for instance, chapter numbers appear on the same line as text; and dialogue is often very difficult to follow, as each single paragraph might contain words being spoken by more than one character, so the reader must be constantly on guard to catch every last quotation mark. This is especially trying when so many of the conversations consist of rather rapid-fire interrogations. Only a few of the first lines of paragraphs are indented; most are left-justified instead. Here are more word-glitches from just the first 1/4 of this book (and by no means is this list complete): the word "people" does indeed appear here as "pea-pie." The word "hello" is printed as "FIello." We get "in ease" instead of "in case." The word "He" appears as "Fle" and "his" is written as "Ins." Instead of "you" we keep seeing "von." We get "carrving" for "carrying" and "look" for "took." The word "police" is printed as "pohee." The word "hut" is repeatedly used instead of "but." We also find "lover lip," "egg-flog" "fireescape," "ping-pang," and "saundproofing. " It's not too hard to decipher "$iooo" or even "Wbat'd"--but what about "iz1/2"? Or how about this sentence: "I said, 'Sb-h-h." And yet there are even worse sentences: "she was thing to find my father" is one clause that I have not yet made sense of, nor have I managed yet to decipher: "he was glad to find me inane alive." Or how about this little gem, which I promise you I've transcribed accurately: "He wore a black derby hat, a black overcoat that fitted him very snugly, a dark suit, and black shoes, all looking as if he had bought them within the past fifteen bought them with the past fifteen calibre automatic, lay comfortably in his hand, not pointing at anything." Shouldn't readers be offended that someone would offer this slop for sale? I say we must be! Stuff like this shouldn't even be given away, but to sell it, even for just a buck and change, is a blasphemy. The Thin Man is a masterpiece of the genre that it in fact helped establish and it deserves to be honorably enshrined in exactly the forms and words that its author intended.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of a kind crime novel, December 6, 1999
By 
This review is from: The Thin Man (Paperback)
My first Dashiell Hammett book and after reading it I decided I'm hooked on his writing. The plot is tight no doubt, but the ending especially left me thoroughly impressed at the skillful crafting of the story. That aside, the playful banter between Nick and Nora Charles amused, and surely the dry wit of Nick will elicit a chuckle. Add to the whole mix a bunch of crazy characters like the Wynant family who can't seem to talk straight, and you get an absorbing whodunnit with a generous dose of humour.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Thin Man, October 25, 2006
A Kid's Review
This review is from: The Thin Man (Paperback)
The Thin Man is a mystery solving the case of Julia Wolf's murder. Nick Charles, a retired detective, and his wife Nora find clues while helping a young girl named Dorothy through problems with her abusive mother and crazy suspect of a dad. As the story unfolds the situation turns out to be more complex than a single murder. There are many twists involving many characters that make the murder hard to solve.

The characters are well-developed with depth and realistic personalities. Detective Charles sarcastic wit makes him a fun character through which to sift through all the information to solve the murder.

Nevertheless the detail of information sifted through in the book can also make parts of the book a slow read. The author goes on large tangents that seem to detract from the story. For example at a party at the beginning of the book Nick is asked about cannibalism in America by a suspects child, Nick hands him a book which is then quoted at great length. Perhaps the author includes this to keep the reader guessing as to its relevance or as a device to show what people may do under extreme circumstances. Either way these side stories make the book drag at parts.

Despite being slow in certain sections the character development and the way the author highlights the relevant pieces of information to solve the mystery is satisfying. If the mystery is like walking through a forest to identify which trees are needed to guide the reader through to the far side of the forest, the author describes in detail too many of the trees. Yet, at the end, it is fun when the detective highlights and connects the facts that are part of the mystery.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Grand Classic Detective novel................., November 15, 2003
This review is from: The Thin Man (Paperback)
The Thin Man is a wonderful novel. Written in the classic Hammett style, the story is full of twists and turns of the interaction of well defined, recognizable characters.
The central characters are Nick and Nora Charles. Nick has been a history as a successful private detective. Nora is a wealthy socialite. Together they are an intriguing and fun couple, who are forced into investigating the circumstance surrounding the mysterious death of a secretary and the unexplained disappearance of an eccentric,wealthy scientist.
The story is so well crafted that everyone becomes a serious suspect and you are left chasing after each individual motive, trying to "figure it out" before the Charles' do.
This novel is a classic from start to finish.
If you have never watched the classic Black and White movie from the 1930's, THE THIN MAN, starring William Powell and Myrna Loy, you have missed out on a treasure, although the book was better and more in-depth.
The movie mirrors the book the closest of any I have seen. The reason, Dashiell Hammett was there to keep it true to the novel. Many of the delightful lines are directly out of the book!
This is a grand and classic detective tale.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I like Spade better, November 27, 2011
By 
doc peterson (Portland, Oregon USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Thin Man (Paperback)
I'm a Hammett fan - the snappy dialogue, the whole noir-schtick. Facing a long layover (and longer flight), and having never read any of Hammett's "Nick and Nora" mysteries, I gave _The Thin Man_ a read. While the elements of Hammett that I always enjoy remained the same, the characters just didn't click with me the way Spade does.

The _Thin Man_ is set in New York City - a far cry from the San Francisco, the city I most readily associate with Hammett (it was both his hometown as well as that of Spade), the protagonists here urbane, wealthy, and dashing: they could not be more different than the hard bitten, cynical Spade. Nick and Nora Charles are to Same Spade what the White Sox fans are to regular attendees to the Chicago philharmonic (no knock on either, and to those who attend both, more power to you.) I assume Hammett was either spreading his literary wings, or was wanting to avoid his characters getting stale. They could not be more different.

The plot revolves around a series of murders involving a socialite's dysfunctional family, the pater familias a person of interest in the crimes. The MacGuffin is that the comings and goings of the father are as etheral and elusive as the murderer him (or her-)self. As the story moves along and the list of suspects shifts, is modified and changes again as suspect after suspect is corssed off the list of possible candidates for the crime as they, too, end up in the morgue, the father a shadow - making him both the perfect suspect and a possible target for the next killing.

The mystery eventually became so tangled and convoluted that I eventually gave up trying to figure out "who dunnit" and simply resigned myself to letting Hammett take me where he would, trusting that he'd eventually solve the crime and connect the dots for me. Thankfully he did, although I remain a bit fuzzy on exactly how the murderer led me (and Nick and Nora) on such a merry chase. In terms of difficulty, _The Thin Man_ is a double-black diamond.

The real attraction of Hammett to me has always been his writing rather than his sluething. And while there is witty banter, wise-cracks and some snap to the exchanges between the characters, I remain much more a fan of Sam Spade. _The Thin Man_ is a good mystery, but the characterization just wasn't as compelling.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thin man, good book, April 17, 2004
This review is from: The Thin Man (Paperback)
The last of Dashiell Hammett's novels was "The Thin Man," and what a last novel it is. A hard-edged whodunnit, Hammett's writing had become very polished and his characters even more intricate by the time he wrote this, and while it's not the best he had written, it's a solid example of his work.
Nick Charles was a rough'n'tough detective... until he married wealthy socialite Nora. Now he's retired early, drinks a lot, and has no apparent wish to come into contact with his messy past life. Enter Dorothy Wynant, daughter of weird (and possibly insane) inventor Clyde Wynant. As it happens, Wynant's secretary/mistress has just been murdered, and was found dying by his ex-wife Mimi.
Nick keeps insisting that he doesn't want to detect, but somehow he gets sucked into it anyway when a gangster (ex-boyfriend of the murdered woman) invades his home and nearly kills him. Dorothy keeps popping up and pleading for help and protection; Charles' old flame Mimi is acting oddly; and her husband has some secrets of his own. Despite Nick's aversion to detective work, he and Nora set out to unravel the mystery surrounding the Thin Man. (Wynant, for your information)
Hammett's cynical attitude was a huge part of his writing, but there's a new dimension to it in "Thin Man." Charles spends a lot of time trying to distance himself from his detective past, and in a way it feels like Hammett was distancing himself from his detective novels. Was Nick's dissatisfaction a sign of Hammett's? Quite possibly.
But many of the things about "Thin Man" are vintage Hammett: lying waifs, men in disguise, lots of lying and booze. Almost everyone is sociopathic, and Nick and Nora aren't exactly what one would call "heroes." However, the dialogue is sharp and witty and the action is slickly exciting. Best of all, Hammett's writing had evolved a bit from his minimalist style; here he describes things like Mimi snarling in a bit more detail.
Nick is the quintessential Hammett anti-hero (cynical, tough, and more than a little obnoxious), except here he's a bit weathered and tired out. Sam Spade and the Continental Op were on top of their games, but he's past his. Nora comes across as a little perkier but as tough in her own way. The crazy Wynant family, like manipulative mom Mimi and freaky son Gilbert, serves as a nice source of conflict.
"The Thin Man" wasn't the best thing Hammett ever wrote, but it's still a solid mystery read. Pass the martinis.
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The Thin Man
The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett (Paperback - July 17, 1989)
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