I picked up Dashiell Hammett's The Thin Man in a used bookstore on an impulse. It wasn't like I had any great desire to read it. For a brief period years ago, I had an interest in classic crime fiction, but it didn't last long. The thought of this blogathon did cross my mind, but mostly I was curious about the book. I had written about Hammett last winter in relation to Lillian Hellman... and, of course, I've seen the movie.
The next thing I noticed was how heavy the book is on dialogue. Hammett gets away with a bare minimum of narrative description of people and places. If he were a member of my writers group, I'd probably call him on that, but it didn't bother me that much. Nick Charles as written in the book strikes me as a man not easily perturbed by the things going on around him. Nora is as I imagined her from the movies - the sensible gal Friday with the droll humor.
The story, however, didn't grab me. As much as I tried to imagine Powell and Loy acting their way through this complex murder mystery with a large cast, I didn't care much for what was going on. I didn't see why the murder mattered, and while everyone's motives were laid out in the open all nice and neat, it still didn't make them that appealing as characters. The same might be true of the movie, but at least you had Powell and Loy to make it all watchable. I think I'll stick to Dennis Lehane from now on.