The Thin Man is Hammett’s last and weakest novel. By the time it was written, he had begun his affair with Lillian Hellman, been embraced and financially enriched by Hollywood, and adopted a freewheeling, alcoholic, pseudo-sophisticated life style not dissimilar to the one depicted in these pages. He had, in short, lost touch with everything that had made his earlier work so innovative and powerful — his background as a Pinkerton detective, his contacts in the underworld, the lean years spent in a San Francisco flat painstakingly writing stories for Black Mask.After watching the first two Thin Man movies in December, I wanted to refresh my memory of the novel. I remembered the unending night clubbing and drinking, but I did not remember the grittiness.
I found the story to be dark, but it was told with humor. If you have seen the Thin Man movie, the banter and quips in that movie show up in the book also. My last post has my comments on the movie.
The family of the missing man is eccentric, to put it mildly. There is a host of other shady characters and you are never sure who is telling the truth.
I enjoyed the novel. It is the only novel I have read by Dashiell Hammett, so I cannot make comparisons to other books. I do know that this novel is less highly regarded than his other novels by some.
This exchange between Nick and Nora near the end of the novel illustrates the juxtaposition of the indulgent lifestyle with the harder side of Nick.
She laughed. "All right, all right. Still want to leave for San Francisco tomorrow?"
"Not unless you are in a hurry. Let's stick around awhile. This excitement has put us behind in our drinking."
"It’s all right by me. What do you think will happen to Mimi and Dorothy and Gilbert now?”
“Nothing new. They’ll go on being Mimi and Dorothy and Gilbert just as you and I will go on being us and the Quinns will go on being the Quinns. Murder doesn't round out anybody's life except the murdered's and sometimes the murderer's. ”I hope to read one or more novels by Hammett later in the year to sample his more hard-boiled writing; specifically The Maltese Falcon or The Glass Key.
Submitted for the Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge (Yankee Doodle Dandy category).