The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett

The Thin Man cover

The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett was first published in 1932.

Nick Charles had retired from the sleuthing business to concentrate on managing his finances which seem to have prospered since his marriage to the wealthy Nora, but he gets drawn back into the detection business when Julia Wolf is found shot dead. She had been the ‘confidential secretary’ to Clyde Miller Wynant, an inventor and one time husband of Mimi, who just happened to find Julia’s body. Mimi is well known to Nick, as are her children, Dorothy and Tristan.

There’s a lot of boozing going on in this book, so it all feels authentically like the America of Prohibition era. I enjoyed the relationship between Nick and Nora although it is a bit bizarre, Nora is too easy going in my opinion, but maybe she was Dashiell Hammett’s idea of the ideal wife!

There are several ghastly characters to really enjoy disliking, and there’s plenty of snappy dialogue. So there’s a lot to like about this book. It’s the first one by Dashiell Hammett that I’ve read and I believe he was the first writer to develop this style, but I have to say that I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as Raymond Chandler’s writing, but that may just have been because I found it just a wee bit too convoluted with a lot of characters to keep track of. Maybe our unusually hot spell was affecting my brain!

6 thoughts on “The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett

  1. This is a very good review, Katrina. I read many years after I had watched the film multiple times, so my reading was probably affected by my expectations from the film. The story was very similar; I don’t really remember any differences. But of course there is a lot more insight into character in the book. I liked this book a lot.

    I like Chandler’s books better also (based on the few books I have read by both authors) but it is Chandler’s writing style I prefer.

    • tracybham,
      I’ve never seen the film so I had no idea what to expect, I’ll definitely try to see it.
      I’ve only read one book by Chandler and liked it a lot but of course I’ve seen those films, they’ve been on TV a lot but for some reason – no Thin Man at all, unless I’ve just missed it.

    • kaggsysbookishramblings,
      Everyone seems to have seen the film – except me! Re all that boozing, there’s nothing like banning something to make it popular although some of the booze – the characters wouldn’t risk drinking!

  2. I love all The Thin Man films and have watched them all over and over. I have them on DVD. William Powell and Myrna Loy, you can’t get better than that. I have read the book, too.

    • Joan,
      I didn’t realise there was a series of films, I’ve never seen any. I knew you were a big Myrna Loy fan, I’ll definitely have to track down the films. I always loved Bogey which could be why I prefer Chandler.

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