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  Grade 10 Reviews
  The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

Review by: Rene L.
California, Grade 10

Hammett is not really artistic in the way he presents his story. No similes, no metaphors, just pure descriptions in a matter-of-fact tone from start to finish. One feels they are reading stage directions rather than traditional prose. But as with any published play, it is the dialogue that shines through the crusty narration. Not one character wastes a word when dealing with detective Sam Spade, continuously propelling the plot forewords. As perfectly edited as Hammett’s style is, one could argue that little small talk leads to measly character development.
This is especially evident in Sam Spade himself, who is a character. Little is said of Spade’s past, and any insight into his thoughts are voluntarily handed over by Spade himself (and he is not too generous). The story is simply a look at one case he takes on (which surrounds a valuable bird statue), rather that a full analysis as to why he is so hard-boiled in all matters of life. This is not to say that he is static, or even one-dimensional, since the book’s finest moments surround Spade’s interaction with shady women.
Sam and Brigid are a truly wonderful pair, due to the fact that neither one can trust the other. The tension and curiosity between the two surpasses other traditional romances, because the two are smart enough to know that they could never have a traditional romance. Spade is also, or is implied of, having a relationship with his partner’s widow. Sam clearly is not one to commit, which makes it hard to deem him a real “hero.” However, this does not turn a reader off to Spade, it only makes him more real due to his flaws. Clearly his secretary has come to get used to his unusually slanted attitude toward life.

Ultimately, the novel succeeds at entertaining an audience willing to go along for the ride. The pages brim with unforgettable personalities that could only function in this sort of fiction. Clever and ingenious, the story has not aged one second since it’s initial publishing.

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