Friday, September 10, 2010
Review of The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett (1932, Penguin)
The Thin Man is a crime farce, written in an all-tell, dialogue and action style, with no excess fat in the prose. There’s a lot of melodrama, with people storming in and out, kissing and making up; and lots of lying, deceit, manipulation and double crosses. Nick Charles is the rock at the centre of all this carry-on; the tough, no-nonsense PI, who’s able to calmly and authoratively take charge and sort the wheat from the chaff, and is attractive to dames and admired by men. He’s the guy that everybody naturally turns to for help, including the police. The characterisation is well developed and Hammett keeps the dozen or so central characters swirling round each other, with the pace relentless without being excessive, and the plot twisting continuously. The story had a little too much melodrama for my taste, but it’s an enjoyable hardboiled yarn nonetheless.