Sunday, July 6, 2014

In My Ears: "The Thin Man" by Dashiell Hammett

In My Ears: The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett, 1934, download was 2005 copyright.

I have not been walking much lately.  I've been biking to work more often and swimming for exercise so this took a while to finish.  William Dufris narrated this one.  Defris also narrates Steve Hockensmith's series with the Amlingmeyers.  So, sometimes I'd be picturing Big Red in 1934 New York and married to Nora.

The novel's story is well known.  In brief, former private detective Nick Charles and his younger wife Nora are visiting New York from their home in San Francisco.  Nick and Nora just want to drink booze (and they do, lots of it) but Nick gets dragged into a murder case by the family of an old client.  Nora loves hearing PI and crime world stories but Nick would just as soon leave it.  Then the film version comes out and makes lots of money.  50 years later the film starts showing on cable (and Urbana's PBS station, WILL, Saturday night movie show) and imagines William Powell as Nick Charles.  (Never mind Asta.)

A humorous novel.  Nothing much hardboiled or noir about this. Charles is kind of a hardboiled alumni.  Charles is quite cynical but has left crime scene behind and would rather spend time with his wife and his liquor.  He focuses on the stock market and business interests.  Former client Wynant is a very reclusive and weird scientist.  Wynant's mistress/assistant has been murdered and Wynant is first person-of-interest.  Since Charles worked for Wynant several years ago Wynant's family asks him to take the case.  Wynant's attorney asks Charles to take the case.  The investigating NYPD Detective wants Charles to take the case and feed the cops informaiton. 

Charles refuses the detective work but keeps being drawn in by the Wynant's scheming ex-wife, Mimi, Wynant's loopy daughter Elizabeth(?), and Wynant's weird son Don'tRecall.  In the meatime Charles and Nora hangout and entertain visitors in their hotel suite and go to dinner parties.  They drink a lot.

Charles asks questions.  Charles is questioned.  Charles tags along with the cops a couple times.  Charles has a hunch that the cops play out.  The murderer is found.  Nora wants things wrapped up a little better.

Worth your time because it is a good book.  Worth your time since it is a milestone in crime fiction.

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