Return of the Thin Man
by Dashiell Hammett
The Thin Man was a revolutionary novel which paired the detective noir style with comedic dialogue between a husband and wife duo. The books, all of which were turned into movies, were a huge hit. Nick and Nora Charles gained a big fan following and now these two previously unpublished Thin Man stories are available. Both stories were turned into films, but have never been available as a book.
I loved the first section of the book the most. It gives the nonfiction evolution of the books and Hammett’s decision-making process with the characters. The stories read like a movie script, which is essentially what they are. That style doesn’t work as well in book format. It’s hard to read something that goes into such detail about who is standing where and what each person is doing throughout the conversation. Also, the audiobook portrayals of Chinese people were pretty awful; think Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany. That’s reflective of the time in which they were written, but it’s hard to ignore.
BOTTOM LINE: The stories are fun little murder mysteries, but with Nick and Nora it’s always been about the clever repartee, not the whodunit. This book is a must for fans of the films, but if you’re new to the series definitely start with the first novel, The Thin Man.
Pair with a viewing of the original 1934 film The Thin Man. Also check out After the Thin Man and Another Think Man, which are the films versions of the stories contained in this collection.