by Dashiell Hammett, 217 pages
A jaded PI goes on the trail of his partner's killer and finds himself embroiled in a complicated web of money, murder, and mystery.
I liked this classic hard-boiled detective novel more than I thought I would. It takes a bit to get used to the way the author reveals no internal thoughts or emotions directly, but after a while you start to appreciate having to be an astute detective yourself and read into the actions and expressions to determine what lies beneath. Not having any clues as to what someone's really thinking and feeling at any moment kind of ups the suspense, too, since you never know for sure what's going on inside their heads and you have to read each situation the way characters involved do--by keeping your eyes open and paying attention to every little thing. The book is also surprisingly funny, in a dry, sarcastic, tough-as-nails kind of way. Sam Spade may not be a "nice," upstanding guy, but you've got to admire his cleverness, grit, and self-preservation skills, as well as his ability to laugh (albeit jadedly so) in the face of the messiness of existence.