- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 3 hours and 19 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
- Audible.com Release Date: November 11, 2008
- Language: English
- ASIN: B001L4EE1K
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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The Maltese Falcon (Dramatized) Audiobook – Unabridged
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The plot is relatively simple, but the characters are what make the novel. Spade is mentally sharp, honest in character, and ready to back up his opinion with his fists. Seemingly having ice water in his veins, Spade is ever the cool customer no matter the odds against him. His client, Brigid, is a double-dealing female willing to switch sides at will when the wind changes directions, obviously used to using her good looks and damsel-in-distress act to get her way. Joel Cairo, the stereotypical homosexual, also seems to be in the game only for himself. The wealthy fat man Casper Gutman and his henchman Wilmer represent the evil antagonists.
The plot is developed slowly. Brigid O'shaughnessy drops by Spades office to hire him to tail her supposed boy friend Floyd Thursby. Brigid is not forthcoming with her real name or the real reason for the job. Miles Archer, Sam's partner, agrees to tail Thursby. Later that evening, Spade receives a call saying that Miles had been killed. Spade becomes a suspect because of his affair with Iva Archer, Miles's wife. Iva actually thinks Sam killed Miles so they could be married. Lt. Dundy, obviously at odds with Spade, is out to bury Sam. However, Spade does have friends in the department, most notably Tom Pohaus. The more Sam tries to get information from Brigid, the more she puts him off.
Enter Joel Cairo. He tries to hire Spade to find a statue of a bird, which we discover is the Malttese falcon. Also, Sam is asked to meet with Gutman, who is also looking to get his hands on the statue. Spade finds out that the statue is a jewel encrusted gold statue of a falcon that has been painted with black enamel to disguise it's value. While the others are trying to use Spade as a pawn to get their hands on the valuable artifact, Sam uses his wits to insert himself into the mix to become a major player. The game's afoot, and only the most cunning player will emerge victorious. Two more murders later, all the main players meet in Spade's apartment to see who will come away with the statue.
The story takes place in San Francisco, which is a fairly large city. But Sam Spade shows the professionalism of his craft by knowing people wherever he goes. This is a classic from a bygone era, and one thing I noticed was that all the men wore hats. I doubt that there will ever be a novel that tops "The Maltese Falcon" in the detective genre.
A seasoned pro, Spade’s actual words referred to slapping Joel Cairo, one of the despicable characters in Falcon, and they went something like this: “‘And when you’re slapped you’ll take it and like it.’ He released Cairo’s wrist and with a thick open hand struck the side of his face three times, savagely.”
As is typical with hard-boiled detective fiction, someone walks into Spade’s life and teases him with a small mystery that grows into something much larger and more deadly at every turn. In this case, it involves an elusive gold falcon statuette disguised in black that flamboyant and loathsome characters want. And want bad. The bird isn’t the only black thing in this story, though. There are plenty of black souls too, including the one inhabiting Spade.
I’ll be sure to read more Hammett and other authors in the genre in due course.
It's short, fast-paced, and well-written. Everyone should read this book.
It should go without saying that you should also see the movie, directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor. Classic film noir, this picture has been included in a number of lists of the best movies ever! It's a lot of fun.