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

3.7 out of 5 stars 115 customer reviews

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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 (115 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #206,188 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Terry Sunday TOP 1000 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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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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Noir detective fiction reigned supreme in America in the 1920s and 1930s, and remained popular through most of the 1950s. And the author who was the acknowledged master of this genre was Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961).

The former Pinkerton detective turned to writing detective stories when he was afflicted with tuberculosis, a disease that would plague him most of his adult life. He wrote stories for “the pulps” – popular detective magazines and a series of novels that set the standard for noir fiction, and in fact likely still set the standard.

He published “Red Harvest” in 1929, followed by “The Dain Curse” that same year. Then came :The Maltese Falcon” in 1930, “The Glass Key” in 1931, and “The Thin Man” in 1934. The novels are written tightly and concisely, and are full of action, unexpected turns, and a fair amount of violence. (One of Hammett’s fellow noir writers, Philip Marlowe, gave this writing advice to authors facing writing blocks: “When in doubt, have to men come in the door with guns.”) A group of his stories was published as “The Continental Op.”

Hammett’s influence on writers – and on the movies – extended far beyond noir fiction. He’s considered so influential, in fact, that Library of America has published a volume of his novels and a volume of his short stories.

My first awareness of Dashiell Hammett was watching The Thing Man movies of the 1930s and early 1940s on television. Starring William Powell as detective Nick Charles and Myrna Loy as his wife Nora, the movies were widely popular when they were first released. If you’re familiar with the movies at all, it’s almost impossible to see anyone but William Powell when you read the Hammett novel.
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