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The Thin Man [Paperback]

Dashiell Hammett
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1932

'When I opened my eyes and sat up in bed Nora was shaking me and a man with a gun in his hand was standing in the bedroom doorway.'

Ex-detective Nick Charles attracts trouble like a magnet. He thinks his sleuthing days are over, but when Julia Wolf, a former acquaintance, is found dead, her body riddled with bullets, Nick - along with his glamorous wife, Nora - can't resist making a few enquiries. Clyde Miller Wynant, Julia's lover and boss, has disappeared. Everyone is after him, but Nick is not convinced Wynant is the murderer - and when he finds a junked-up hoodlum with a careless attitude to guns in his bedroom, it's only the beginning of his troubles.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 190 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; First Penguin edition 1932 edition (1932)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140088768
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140088762
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,121,354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

Review

Harsh lights and romantic black shadows: this is the heyday of American crime writing (Guardian)

The ace performer (Raymond Chandler) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Dashiell Hammett was born in Maryland in 1894. He grew up in Philadelphia and Baltimore. After leaving school at the age of 14, he held a variety of jobs until he finally became an operative for the legendary Pinkerton's Detective Agency. The First World War interrupted his sleuthing, and also shattered his health. He turned to the writing of detective fiction and is regarded as one of the masters of the genre. Hammett has been a major influence on contemporary fiction. He died in 1961. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
I was leaning against the bar in a speakeasy on Fifty-second Street, waiting for Nora to finish her Christmas shopping, when a girl got up from the table where she had been sitting with three other people and came over to me. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Plot THINS! 13 May 2012
Format:Paperback
A REVIEW OF `THE THIN MAN' by DASHIELL HAMMETT

`The Thin Man' (first published in 1932) is a tightly-plotted, teasing who-dunnit from `The Golden Age of Crime Fiction'. Set in New York during the Christmas week of 1932 it deals with ex-private detective (or `gum shoe'), Nick Charles's attempts to find the killer of a woman of dubious reputation (Julia Wolf) who was caught up in the personal and professional business of screwy inventor/genius/shop-keeper, Clyde Wynant. As he attempts to untangle the mass of clues, red-herrings, aliases and false alibis, Charles needs to rely upon all of his old powers of deduction to solve a case that is simultaneously complex and simple.

Although pacey and engaging, there are obvious limitations to `The Thin Man' that make its inclusion in the ranks of `classic' crime capers questionable. Perhaps the most glaring of these is the fact that virtually every character is devoid of any truly likeable qualities. Our sleuth Charles himself is a cynical (virtual) alcoholic, living brazenly off his rather smug wife, Nora's, wealth. Compare this character profile to Agatha Christie's ludicrously pompous (but hugely endearing and enduring) Hercule Poirot. Likewise, the suspects are all horribly flawed characters, especially Wynant's ex-wife and children. Thus, when the finger of guilt points at various suspects during the story's unfolding, it is difficult for the reader to truly care whether or not justice is done.

What has saved `The Thin Man' from obscurity is its ingenious twist-in-the-tale. Like the best Poirot novels of the era, the solution to the crime appears to be screamingly obvious once one fundamental fact is established, leaving the reader to ponder, "How did I miss that?!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Character Development 6 Aug 2004
By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Audio Cassette
If you are like me, you met The Thin Man first in the movie series. Those movies have Nick Charles straddling the gap between the "haves" and the tough guy world with insouciance as he waltzes with the wealthy socialites and unravels fatal plots. The book itself is much darker, directly suggesting alcoholism, incest, adultery, and all the minor crimes . . . and deadly sins. The view is that humans are thoroughly flawed, but some can rise above that to serve others anyway. That is the nobility of the Nick Charles character . . . as he staggers out of bed in the afternoon with yet another hangover. Helping out old clients is his source of redemption against the temptations he cannot resist.
The world view is probably somewhat autobiographical as Hammett spent more of his time in Hollywood late in his career, rather than working as a fiction writer. The echoes of F. Scott Fitzgerald are very strong, especially to Tender Is The Night.
For those who love the classic "tough guy" stories by Hammett, this one can never have the same appeal. Nick is still tough, but he mostly shows it by taking abuse with style. That's a feminine kind of toughness that comes from maturity. He passes off the chances to trade punches when they arise.
The characterizations of Nick and Nora Charles are the strength of the novel. But the book transcends that by also creating a picture of a flawed marriage between two people with hearts of gold who love each other, but are also killing each other. The development of the relationship is brilliant.
The mystery itself isn't very mysterious. It just has lots of red herrings. If you judge mysteries by the quality of the plot unfolding of that mystery, you will probably rate this book at 3 or 4 stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Character Development 6 Aug 2004
By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
If you are like me, you met The Thin Man first in the movie series. Those movies have Nick Charles straddling the gap between the "haves" and the tough guy world with insouciance as he waltzes with the wealthy socialites and unravels fatal plots. The book itself is much darker, directly suggesting alcoholism, incest, adultery, and all the minor crimes . . . and deadly sins. The view is that humans are thoroughly flawed, but some can rise above that to serve others anyway. That is the nobility of the Nick Charles character . . . as he staggers out of bed in the afternoon with yet another hangover. Helping out old clients is his source of redemption against the temptations he cannot resist.
The world view is probably somewhat autobiographical as Hammett spent more of his time in Hollywood late in his career, rather than working as a fiction writer. The echoes of F. Scott Fitzgerald are very strong, especially to Tender Is The Night.
For those who love the classic "tough guy" stories by Hammett, this one can never have the same appeal. Nick is still tough, but he mostly shows it by taking abuse with style. That's a feminine kind of toughness that comes from maturity. He passes off the chances to trade punches when they arise.
The characterizations of Nick and Nora Charles are the strength of the novel. But the book transcends that by also creating a picture of a flawed marriage between two people with hearts of gold who love each other, but are also killing each other. The development of the relationship is brilliant.
The mystery itself isn't very mysterious. It just has lots of red herrings. If you judge mysteries by the quality of the plot unfolding of that mystery, you will probably rate this book at 3 or 4 stars.
Read more ›
Comment | 
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
vg
Published 2 months ago by allan ledden
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
As a classic detective story, the book is hard to fault, with a well constucted plot and enough clues scattered about to maintain the reader's interest. Read more
Published 6 months ago by E. Orr
5.0 out of 5 stars The Thin Man
I used to really love the films with William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles and their dog Asta, only fairly recently found out that Dashiel Hammett wrote the... Read more
Published 8 months ago by D. J. Wilden
4.0 out of 5 stars Dorothy is a sleaze in the book
When I see a film based on a novel, I like to read the novel to compare plots and execution. Most of the time the novel or story is fuller than the movie due to the short media... Read more
Published 14 months ago by bernie
5.0 out of 5 stars Dorothy is a sleaze in the book
When I see a film based on a novel, I like to read the novel to compare plots and execution. Most of the time the novel or story is fuller than the movie due to the short media... Read more
Published 15 months ago by bernie
5.0 out of 5 stars Dashiel Hammet is a master writer
Fabulous writer. He invented his own form of fiction and triumphed at it. I've read this four times and find new joys in it every time.
Published 18 months ago by Mr. Adam Ritchie
4.0 out of 5 stars melodramatic hardboiled yarn
The Thin Man is a crime farce, written in an all-tell, dialogue and action style, with no excess fat in the prose. Read more
Published on 29 May 2012 by Rob Kitchin
4.0 out of 5 stars The Plot THINS!
A REVIEW OF `THE THIN MAN' by DASHIELL HAMMETT

`The Thin Man' (first published in 1932) is a tightly-plotted, teasing who-dunnit from `The Golden Age of Crime Fiction'. Read more
Published on 13 May 2012 by Barty Literati
2.0 out of 5 stars Dull, dull, dull, dull.........
The overwhelming opinion of the reviewers here seems to be that the book fails to deliver on its promises, and I'm afraid that I agree. Read more
Published on 28 Oct 2011 by Bookmole
3.0 out of 5 stars Monotone
A book where everyone sounds exactly the same, and there's an alcoholic drink on every page. Not sure if the two are related. Read more
Published on 14 Sep 2011 by Frootle
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