Reviewed by TONY BAER:


DASHIELL HAMMETT – The Thin Man. Alfred A. Knopf, hardcover, 1934. Originally published in abridged form in Redbook (December 1933). Reprinted many times. Film: MGM, 1945, starring William Powell & Myrna Loy. (A total of six films were made based on the characters.) TV series: NBC, 1957-59, starring Peter Lawford & Phyllis Kirk.

   Nick and Nora Charles are terrific inventions. Equals at witty repartee. Equals at powers of observation, if not detection. Equals at handling their booze.

   That’s what’s fun about the book: Nick and Nora. They’re screwball and they don’t care who knows it. But as screwball and drunk as they are, they’re still more deft than the daft coppers.

   Nick’s a retired detective. Retired since he married Nora and her rich uncle died, leaving enough for Nick and Nora to remain comfortably housed and soused from here to eternity.

   Nick wouldn’t be drug into any more detection, either, if he could help it. But help it he can’t. For a former client of his, the titular Thin Man, is a murder suspect. He’s disappeared, but leaves word with his lawyer that he wants Nick hired to find the real killer. Price is no object.

   Now Nick has no need of the Thin Man’s money. But gangster’s bullets, the cops, and the Thin Man’s ex and kids won’t leave Nick be. So he’s really got no choice but to solve the thing so he can be left alone.

   I’d remembered who ‘did it’, as this was probably the 3rd time reading it over the years. But it really doesn’t matter. The wit doesn’t grow old. And like Pound says, ‘art is news that stays news’. And this is art, for sure. At least in my book.

   A terrific, witty book. Nick and Nora are great fun to hang out with. The only thing I can’t figure is how the movie sequels got called “….The Thin Man….” (‘After…’, ‘Another…’, ‘Shadow of…’, ‘…goes home’, ‘Song of…’). Not to give anything away, but the Thin Man ain’t having any more adventures after this one.