Monday, December 31, 2007

Hammet - The Thin Man

The Thin Man. Dashiell Hammett. Vintage. 1933/1972. The final and perhaps best book, certainly the funniest, from Dashiel Hammet. His previous books were violent hard boiled tales, with a sprinkling of humor; this book is full-out humor with just a touch of the violence. The Thin Man takes place on Christmas, but it could as easily be New Year's Eve, as the holiday is used only to establish a party ambience. And this book is, essentially, a party. The movie, especially the first one, is as good. Picture Nick Charles laying on the couch, popping away at balloons with a pellet pistol, as Nora Charles looks on with humor and affection. That scene is from the movie. But the book also has many funny scenes, plus the characters of Nick and Nora, a supporting cast of eccentrics, and a real mystery too! The more Nick insists he is retired and not working on a case, the more everyone believes the great detective has left retirement to do exactly that. The story ends with the same sense of fun and humor that enriches the entire novel. Read the book and see the movie (or the first three).

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