Nick and Nora Charles are staying at a swanky hotel in Manhattan when word arrives of a missing man. Content to leave his old life behind as a private detective, Nick wants no part of the investigation. However, it isn’t long before Nick is forced into the case and in order to deal with the cast of characters circling the search, he keeps the liquor flowing.
Ah, the 1930s, when alcoholism was considered a charming personality trait as well as the social norm rather than the life-destroying disease that it is today. Seriously, I have no idea how Nick Charles was even standing at points let alone aware enough to piece together clues and solve a murder mystery.
It goes without saying how tremendous a character his wife Nora is as the author makes her just as important a character as Nick. She exists in an era that I do not imagine had many strong female protagonists. Outside of the two main attractions, the cast is filled with characters with their personalities turned up to eleven. Don’t get me started on the always hysterical Dorothy.
While I didn’t like this as much as Hammett’s classic Sam Spade novel The Maltese Falcon, it was still a fun, whodunnit featuring hilariously witty dialogue along with two memorable leads. While Hammett is considered the Godfather to all hard-boiled fiction, Chandler certainly perfected it with his Philip Marlowe series.