Anybody who read this book without any prior knowledge of it would probably dismiss it as being full of cliches, archetypes and tropes, they would be dead wrong of course because this is where those tropes and such originated. The anti-hero, smooth talking P.I., the femme fatale, the plucky Girl Friday secretary, the gay gangster (uh, not if this actually caught on) etc. Such people must be part of an endangered sub-species however, as The Maltese Falcon
is one of the best known works of fiction ever.
I don't actually have a lot to say about this book because while it was moderately enjoyable it did not resonate much with me. I don't particularly like any of the characters, except the plucky secretary Effie Perine may be, the protagonist Sam Spade is very smart but I find him a little irritating and unappealing. I suppose he makes a change from fictional detectives who sit around smoking pipes, playing violins and going on about their little grey cells but I like the old(er) school quirky fellows better. I guess Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe is cut from the same cloth, which would explain why I do not like [b:The Big Sleep|2052|The Big Sleep (Philip Marlowe, #1)|Raymond Chandler|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327876070s/2052.jpg|1222673] much either. Don't mind me, I believe it's all good stuff, just not my biscuit.
I do however like Hammett's clean prose and cool dialogue, I don't know much about this subgenre he was writing in but if he is indeed the first author to popularize it he probably should have coined the term iNoir. In my quick Googly research about this book I read that it has a theme of "What it's like to want something-a fortune, a lover, or even respect-so bad that you would kill for it, give up a chance at happiness to get it, until finally the chase itself means more to you than what you're chasing."
I have to confess this theme escaped me entirely, I thought it was about a tough-guy P.I. who is too cool to be fooled by foxy ladies. Further proof - if any were needed - of my idiocy I guess.