Wednesday, the 19th of May, and time once again for Shelf Control! Shelf Control is a weekly feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and celebrates the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles/mountains. To participate, all you do is pick a book from your TBR pile, and write a post about it–what its about, why you want to read it, when you got it, and such. If you participate, don’t forget to link back to Lisa’s page, and do also leave your links in the comments below as I’d love to check out your picks!

Today, my pick is a book I’ve been wanting to read for a long long time but am yet to get to, The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett. As soon as the name is mentioned, the first images that pop into one’s mind are from the series of films starring William Powell and Myrna Loy, most of which I’ve seen and enjoyed. Unlike the series of films, for which Hammett wrote some of the screenplays, the book is the only one to feature Nick and Nora Charles.

Born in 1894, Samuel Dashiell Hammett served as an operative for Pinkerton between 1915 and 1922, and also served in the army. He was first published in a magazine in 1922, and went on to create memorable characters like Continental Op, Sam Spade, and Nick and Nora Charles.

In The Thin Man, first published in 1934, we meet Nick and Nora Charles, a rich and glamorous couple who travel to New York (from San Francisco) towards the end of the prohibition in 1932. Nick, a former private detective, gave up his career on his marriage to Nora, a wealthy socialite, and spends much of his time drinking. Unlike in the later films, in the book, Nick and Nora have no children but do have a female schnauzer named Asta. Against his will, Nick is drawn into investigating a murder–the secretary of an eccentric scientist is murdered while the scientist himself, Clyde Wynant, is missing. Everyone from the Wynant family to the police want Nick to solve the matter. Along the way we are also treated to Nick and Nora’s banter.

From reviews and what I’ve read of the book, I do know that it is much darker than the film itself, and is also said to focus more on the case than other aspects–a murder mystery with some comic aspects thrown in rather than the other way around, which was how the film could be described. I wonder if Nick and Nora are as attractive in the books as in the film? It was interesting to learn from the description that Asta in the book is a very different dog than in the movies but am sure ‘she’ (I guess no Mrs Asta here, ha ha) will be great fun as always.

Have you read this one? How did it compare to the movies? Did you prefer the book, the movies, or did you think both were fun in their own way? Looking forward to your thoughts!

Cover image from Goodreads (here), book description from Wikipedia (here)

Lisa’s pick this week is Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill, a sci-fi thriller where AI has taken over the world (here)

2 thoughts on “Shelf Control #140: The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett

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