Ex-detective Nick Charles and his wealthy young wife have come from
A chance encounter with the daughter of a former client of his who wants him to help her find her father makes sure that most of Nick’s original holiday goals will be impossible to achieve because, try as he might to avoid any involvement, he is slowly sucked into a mess beyond his imagination. Before he knows what hit him, Nick is working with a NYPD detective on a murder investigation, becomes the target of one of the murder suspects, finds that the wife of another suspect is trying to frame him for the murder, realizes that he and Nora have become surrogate parents to the young lady who first got him involved, and is still trying to squeeze in as much booze as possible into his daily routine.
The Thin Man was Dashiell Hammett’s last novel and I had hoped to enjoy it much more than I did. Strangely enough, what will stay with me the longest is the alcoholism that the novel’s main character, Nick Charles, so obviously suffers, suffers to such a degree that he is constantly joking about his need for a drink and offering drinks to others so that he will have an excuse to mix one for himself. In fact, his young wife Nora, if she stays with Nick too many years, is almost certainly going to end up in the same boat. Hammett, an alcoholic himself, portrays these drinking habits as humorous and sophisticated, very much a positive thing in the lives of Nick and Nora Charles. I found that attitude, along with some casual use of the “N-word” to be distracting enough to keep me from fully buying into the novel’s plot. I realize that the book was written at least 75 years ago but I struggled to get past this kind of thing, especially Hammett’s attempt to make alcoholism seem so appealing a lifestyle.
I listened to the audio version of the book and I was impressed with the way that William Dufris read the novel. The Thin Man is largely a first person narrative by Nick Charles with the remainder of the book being told in conversational format. Dufris does a superb job providing accents, inflections and different voices for the various characters, male and female, and made listening to Hammett’s story a pleasure but, overall, I was disappointed in the book. Based on its reputation, I think that I expected too much.
Rated at: 3.0