Monday, January 21, 2013

Book Report: The Thin Man

While still in the noir genre, Dashiell Hammett's The Thin Man is much more lighthearted than Chandler's The Big Sleep. The plot runs thus: retired detective Nick Charles and his heiress wife, Nora, get dragged into solving a murder mystery. Where Chandler's detective, Marlowe, is a hopelessly jaded, world-weary anti-hero, Nick and Nora Charles are a team, dedicated to each other and wholly in love. Where the two novels intersect, is with their humor. All three characters are constantly cracking wise--the main difference being that Nick and Nora are all about playful banter, where Marlowe's cracks often come with a cruel edge. Oh, and Nick and Nora have a darling Schnauzer, Asta, which acts as comic relief...

Pssst... You may be familiar with Dashiell Hammett's other famous detective, the hard-hearted Sam Spade, portrayed by Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon.

Nora was eating a piece of cold duck with one hand and working on a jig-saw puzzle with the other when I got home.

"I thought you'd gone to live with her," she said. "You used to be a detective: find me a brownish piece shaped something like a snail with a long neck."

"Piece of duck or puzzle?"  --Dashiell Hammett

On a movie note: if you haven't seen the The Thin Man with Myrna Loy and William Powell, see it immediately. It was so popular that it spawned a series of movies. On a book note: if you enjoyed The Thin Man, you may also like The Maltese Falcon and Red Harvest by Hammett, The Third Man and The Quiet American by Graham Greene, and by Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep.

1. Man and woman on couch, via Emil Anton; 2. Times Square in Snow, 1930s, via The McMahan Photo Art Gallery & Archive; 3. Times Square/Broadway Composition, by Walker Evans, via The Getty; 4. Bartender at Rickhouse, by Kenneth Lu; 5. Art Deco clock, via Country Living; 6. Art Deco phone, via Beautiful Day; 7. Three piece suit, via The Dapper Gentleman; 8. Suspenders and cufflinks, via I Dream of; 9. White dinner jacket, via The Fuller View; 10. Zefa the Schnauzer, by Daerson Oliveira; 11. Telegram, 1932, via The U.S. National Archives; 12. Gin & Tonic, by Drizzle & Drip.

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