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Customer Review

59 of 60 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Bad for What It Is, but Be Aware of What You Get, October 4, 2012
This review is from: Return of the Thin Man: Two never-before-published novellas featuring Nick & Nora Charles (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Many fascinating facts about Hammett's characters come to light in the commentaries to three previously unpublished Thin Man stories in "Return of the Thin Man."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. They're not disappointing, exactly, but they fall far short of being comparable to Hammett's other stories and novels. The third piece in this volume, "Sequel to the Thin Man," is an eight-page mishmash of plot points and dialogue snippets that even Hammett himself apparently disowned. It left me thoroughly confused. The less said about it, the better.

For completists, there's probably no question of picking up "Return of the Thin Man." For this casual Hammett reader, however, I found the volume to be interesting and worth reading once, but nothing special. I enjoyed it, but it will not find a permanent place in my library. It you're a Hammett fan and don't mind the limitations of the screenplay format, you should give it a try. But keep your expectations in check--it's probably less than you think it will be.
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 17, 2012 2:13:23 PM PDT
David Cady says:
What a smart, smart review. I couldn't have said it better myself. And didn't. :)

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 18, 2012 5:51:37 AM PDT
Terry Sunday says:
David,

Ah, but you did--and in far fewer words!

Many thanks for the kind comment.

Terry

Posted on Mar 28, 2013 7:58:41 AM PDT
Lonya says:
Yes, as David said, nicely done.

Posted on Nov 5, 2014 1:55:09 PM PST
Think I'll pass on this "book" Thanks for the review

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2014 2:57:48 PM PST
Terry Sunday says:
M.,

Thanks for the comment. I'm glad you found the review useful.

Terry

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 23, 2014 10:35:34 AM PST
Seeker says:
This is the info I wanted; thanks for posting it.

One small cavil, the reference to the inventor at the end of the first paragraph. Spoiler! Please edit so first-time readers of 'The Thin Man' will be surprised.

As Hammett might say, don't tip the other guy's mitt.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 23, 2014 1:27:05 PM PST
Terry Sunday says:
Seeker,

Hmmm. I didn't think it was a spoiler. After all, Wikipedia also says it in within the first few paragraphs of its entry. What better source could there be???

But I'm not fanatically attached to my verbiage, and it doesn't matter that much to my review, so I did take your suggestion and edited out the "spoiler."

Thanks for the comment and the suggestion.

Terry
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