Top critical review
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on 19 June 2011
This is not hard-boiled apart from one memorable scene in a New York speakeasy. There is vitually no witty repartee after a bright sparky first 40 pages. The book kicks off with a sassy, tongue-in cheek racy start featuring Nick 'the Greek' Charles and Nora his wife, 'a lanky brunette with a wicked jaw'. After that it goes into a long lingering death where all the characters virtually talk themselves to a standstill.
Nobody does in any detecting because they are all sozzled. Any attempt at a student drinking-game would result in an A & E stomach-pumping every 20 pages. Drinks occur at any and every moment of the day with the main excuse often being, 'to cut the phlegm'. Charming.
The book felt like a short story that had been grossly inflated. If this book had not had Mr Hammett's name on the cover I would have thrown it in the bin. The first 40 pages and Mr Hammett's track record force me to give it two stars, but this is a lazy work padded with tedious dialogue that faills to progress the story.
Mr Hammett's last novel. Maybe he knew that the star had burned brightly.