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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
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'. 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)...
Published on 13 May 2012 by Barty Literati

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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Forget the book... watch the movie
If you ever saw the movie The Thin Man starring William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles, then you already know the basic story. It's the worst part of the Depression and Nick and Nora are a fabulously wealthy couple living in San Francisco. For business reasons, they are spending Christmas in New York City where Nick was once a first-class detective. Clyde...
Published on 5 Oct 2007 by Thomas Paul


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Plot THINS!, 13 May 2012
This review is from: The Thin Man (Penguin Essentials) (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?!" In addition, the setting of Prohibition-era America adds a pleasing backdrop to the gritty case, albeit by exposing the absurd failure of the well-intentioned alcohol ban.

Therefore, `The Thin Man' survives as a diverting but not wholly-satisfying entry in the canon of crime fiction. Today it is perhaps best remembered as the book that inspired the series of MGM film from the 1930s. These movies, starring William Powell as Nick Charles, adopted a lighter touch and gave audiences a far more appealing leading man. Might this explain why the film spawned a series of sequels, whilst the novel remained a one-off? Over to you, Hercule...

Barty's Score: 7/10
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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 "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
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.
I suggest that you think about what temptations are difficult for you to resist. How will those temptations undermine your life and your relationships? How can you occupy yourself in ways so that there will either be less temptation or you will be more able to resist it?
To your good health and that of all your relationships!
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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 "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
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.
I suggest that you think about what temptations are difficult for you to resist. How will those temptations undermine your life and your relationships? How can you occupy yourself in ways so that there will either be less temptation or you will be more able to resist it?
To your good health and that of all your relationships!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Character Development, 6 Aug 2004
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
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.
I suggest that you think about what temptations are difficult for you to resist. How will those temptations undermine your life and your relationships? How can you occupy yourself in ways so that there will either be less temptation or you will be more able to resist it?
To your good health and that of all your relationships!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Acting in This Audio Cassette Version, 14 May 2004
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Thin Man (Paperback)
Let me begin by noting that I am reviewing the audio cassette version of The Thin Man that stars Daniel J. Travanti as Nick Charles and Lynne Lipton as his young and wealthy wife, Nora.
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.
I would like to especially note that the acting by Daniel J. Travanti as Nick brings a great sensitivity to the role. When I read the book, I put a snarl into a lot of the Nick lines when he is beset by yet another visitor or telephone call. Mr. Travanti wisely chooses to share an equivocal openness instead. I think his reading is correct, and added much to my appreciation of the story. Whoever cast him for this role deserves commendation as well.
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. I rated this audio cassette version for 5 stars based on the story line about the nature of modern people and relationships, and the superb acting by Mr. Travanti.
After enjoying this dramatization of the story, I suggest that you think about what temptations are difficult for you to resist. How will those temptations undermine your life and your relationships? How can you occupy yourself in ways so that there will either be less temptation or you will be more able to resist it?
To your good health and that of all your relationships!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dorothy is a sleaze in the book, 26 Feb 2011
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Thin Man (Paperback)
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 time and the target audience. In this case, the novel does have a better-developed plot and is more cohesive. The characters are more true to form and there is a real Rosewood/Rosebrien. However, the book characters are more sinister and Dorothy is sleazy. I planed to make this the last story I would read by Dashiel Hammett. However, others tell me I just picked the wrong one to start with.

The film on the other hand, was modified to give a lighter approach. It is the film that I will think of as the real "Thin Man" and Maureen O'Sullivan as the real Dorothy that was concerned about her father. Speaking about that, what is the Sullivan act?

The Thin Man Starring: William Powell, Myrna Loy
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hammett's Ghost, 13 Dec 2006
By 
Rotgut "rotgut" (Warrington UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Thin Man (Paperback)
Dashiell Hammett was Christopher Marlowe to Raymond Chandler's Shakespeare, Hamnett in many ways invented the medium that the slightly later writer perfected.

This is not to say Hammett's work has no intrinsic merit of its own, of course, far from it. However, this almost humorous detective tale is not his best. Nick and Nora Charles seem a rather heartless couple, and their investigation inevitably lacks the intensity present in "The Dain Curse" or "Red Harvest". Their hotel-room-bound life (comparisons to Alan Partridge living in a Norwich Travel Tavern would be a bit unfair..)presumably meant to seem glittering and bright, featuring telephone conversations with the State Governor, chicken livers for breakfast and endless alcohol quickly palls.

As a classic detective yarn, the book is hard to fault, with a well constucted plot and enough clues and red herrings scattered about to maintain the reader's interest throughout. It is unlikely, however, that it could be re-read with as much pleasure as Chandler's "The Big Sleep" or even some of Hammett's own, earlier, more substantial, works.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A truly classy gangster tale, 27 Aug 2012
This review is from: The Glass Key (Paperback)
If you've never seen 'Miller's Crossing', I urge you to - without the slightest hesitation - do so now! The Coen brothers' gangster film is not quite up there with 'The Godfather' or 'Goodfellas', but is a work of genius nevertheless. It's a highly stylised tale of a town ruled by the mob and the relationship of the two men at the centre of it. Both Gabriel Byrne and Albert Finney are superb (indeed, there are no slouches in the entire cast), and the film is packed with fantastic moments which will remain forever in your memory. (The soundtrack is brilliant too). The Coens are variable film makers, but this is one of their Grade A efforts. So if you've never seen it, I order you to please stop reading this now and go out and get yourself a copy. You will thank me later.

For whatever reason - even though I clearly love the film - I'd never actually read the Dashiell Hammett novel which inspired it. Perhaps it was because I didn't know what `inspired by' actually meant. The film isn't a straight adaptation of the book, so is that inspiration obscure and oblique, or is it blatant and obvious? The answer is very much the latter. They share a similar setting, the relationship between the two central characters, the spark of a mob war, some great dialogue and even all that stuff about the hats. (You'll understand when you see the film.) Even if I didn't know that this was the inspiration, I'd have spotted it almost immediately anyway.

I always dislike reading a book after I've seen the film, as I normally end up just comparing one to the other, but in this case it was unavoidable. However trying to judge it on its own merits, I will say that this is a thrilling read which kept this reader permanently on edge. Much like Hammett's `Red Harvest', it's frequently difficult to work out which side the lead character is actually on - and that of course means anything can happen. The ending perhaps isn't as clever or as affecting as it should be, but this is a classy gangster tale with suspense, great scenes and fantastic dialogue - and you can't really ask for more than that, can you?
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Forget the book... watch the movie, 5 Oct 2007
By 
Thomas Paul (Plainview, NY USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
If you ever saw the movie The Thin Man starring William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles, then you already know the basic story. It's the worst part of the Depression and Nick and Nora are a fabulously wealthy couple living in San Francisco. For business reasons, they are spending Christmas in New York City where Nick was once a first-class detective. Clyde Wynant, a man that Nick once helped, is missing and his daughter Dorothy (played by Maureen O'Sullivan in the movie) asks Nick to help find him. Nick isn't anxious to get back in the detective game (although Nora wants to see him in action) but when Clyde Wynant's secretary (who is also his lover) is killed and Wynant is suspected, Nick is dragged into the investigation.

All the players are here, Mimi Jorgenson, Wynat's ex-wife who is desperately in need of money; Chris Jorgenson, Mimi's current husband; Dorothy and Gilbert Wynant, Wynant's two grown-up children; John Guild, the police detective stuck with this baffling case; Herbert MacCaulay, Wynant's lawyer; Nick Morelli the gangster and speakeasy owner; and Arthur Nunheim, the police stool pigeon and blackmailer. The problem is that none of these characters are in the least bit likable which makes it hard to care about them or even care if Wynant is found. Unlike the movie, Dorothy is a floozy who drinks too much, Mimi beats her children, and Gilbert is beyond eccentric and is simply unbelievable. And the book drags on with side steps into discussions of cannibalism, for example, that really have no point nor do they move the story along.

But the main failure of the book is in failing to do what the movie does best... make a couple of Nick and Nora. There is no Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson feel in the book. Nora mostly hangs around comforting Dorothy and keeping Mimi from smacking poor Dorothy around. When the killer is revealed and the case solved, Nora isn't even around... she's back at the hotel. Rarely is a movie better than the book it is based on (Jaws come to mind) but this is one book that is poor compared to the movie. I should add that the book has a gratuitous use of the n-word and stereotypes lesbians as man-haters which made me like the book even less. Yes, I know the book was written in the 30's but still it grates on the modern reader and probably quite a few readers even back in the 30's.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, 21 April 2014
By 
E. Orr (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Thin Man (Penguin Essentials) (Paperback)
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. It is unlikely, however, that it could be re-read with as much pleasure as Chandler's "The Big Sleep" or even some of Hammett's own, earlier, works. A writer who writes in the same hard-boiled fashion as Hammett today is Morton Bain.
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The Thin Man (Penguin Essentials)
The Thin Man (Penguin Essentials) by Dashiell Hammett (Paperback - 5 April 2012)
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