The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Nick Charles is a retired detective who has quit the profession to devote himself to Nora, his rich wife, and her financial investments. However, Clyde Wynant, an eccentric inventor is missing and his secretary, Julia Wolff, is found dead in her apartment. She is found by Wynant's ex-wife who is looking for him.
So who killed her? That is the premise. The rest is your basic formula of rounding up suspects and witnesses, each colorful characters in their own right.
Well. What did I think?
It was a good mystery. Mostly it was playful banter between Nick and Nora Charles as they flirt and question and party with suspects, witnesses and innocent bystanders. Let me give a sample conversation which I made up but is not much of a caricature.
Nick: Darling you looking ravishing!
Nora: Why thank you darling. Another drink?
Nick: Not you, dear. I was talking to the sexy young thing, who is mad as a hatter and may have killed her father, standing next to you and I will have a drink.
Nora: (Giggle) Darling, you are incorrigible, it almost makes me not sorry to be outrageously flirting with the very handsome man who is also a murder suspect. I think I'll have a Scotch.
Nick: Make me a Scotch too and why should you be sorry? We're a modern progressive couple who thumbs our noses at Prohibition. Why adhere to other social norms? You know I'm not serious. You're the only lovely lady for me.
Nora: That's comforting, but you're not finished with your vodka.
Nick: I will be in two minutes.
Nora and Nick: Laugh, laugh, laugh!
Nora: Oh, what about the murder?
Nick: Isn't it obvious who did it?
Nora: Is it?
Nick: Yes. Now let's continue flirting and drinking.
Nora: Yes, let's.
Of course, Hammett is a lot wittier than me but that's mostly what I got out of the story: a lot of conversation that didn't seem to go anywhere. Maybe it was in his contract to write so many words, which would explain the unnecessary dialogue.
I can't say I didn't enjoy it or would never read a Hammett again. It was not uninteresting and maybe the movies are better. It's a question of taste, I suppose.
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Postscript: Josh and I just watched the movie. The book is better.