What a whirlwind month February has been! I’ve started my third year of uni properly now, brought out the first issue of Empire Times for 2018 (see pic below), and been constantly working to create the second issue. Being this busy has affected my reading time, but I’ve still been able to find some time. The reading list for this month is small, with no short stories for the first time ever, I think. However, I may decide to switch from novels to short stories for next month, just to boost up numbers. Anyway, without further delay, here is Book Talk for this month.
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
Detective Sam Spade is hired by Miss Wonderley, a beautiful woman, to track down her sister. His partner, Miles Archer, is shot and killed after following a trail. Its Archer’s death that sees Spade suddenly thrown into a strange new world, where he’s being hunted while hunting himself. It’s during this that he comes across a treasure worth so much that people are willing to kill for it.
My first encounter with The Maltese Falcon was through my crime fiction and film class in university. My tutor was talking about hardboiled detectives and showed us the 1941 film adaptation which stars Humphrey Bogart. I really liked the film and ended up deciding to buy the book, as I began an interest in hardboiled detective stories. It was great to finally read this book after so long on the shelf, but like a lot of much older books, I came across some problems.
In comparison with other texts from the era (about the early 1930s), The Maltese Falcon is still relatively easy to read and I understood what was going on in the story. I did though have some problems with the writing style, mainly with it being dated. The story too was extremely dialogue heavy with some sentences feeling long-winded. Despite these issues though, I did enjoy reading this book. The characters in this story is where it really shines. Sam Spade is fantastic and is, in my opinion, very much like Bogart’s performance in the adaptation. Joel Cairo too comes across a lot like Peter Lorre does in the movie, which further enhanced my enjoyment of the story.
The Maltese Falcon may have aged in terms of style, but it continues to remain a good read which is still surprisingly easy to read. If you enjoy the film or other hardboiled detectives, like Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, then you’ll enjoy this story. You should give this a read too if you wish to see where the modern hardboiled detective originated from.
Corpselight by Angela Slatter.
The sequel to Vigil, Corpselight once again follows Verity Fassbinder, a half weird-half human living in Brisbane. A new mystery has now appeared, but she is also facing yet another great challenge: becoming a mother for the first time. Her new mystery though threatens her and her family in a way not seen yet.
Vigil was one of my favourite reads of 2016. I really enjoyed the idea of a detective style mystery being set in Brisbane with mythological creatures. Most of all, I really loved the Australian twist that these mythologies had with them, and how familiar they to me, despite not being from Brisbane. So naturally, I was really excited to pick up Corpselight. I may have only gotten halfway through it as of writing this, but it’s certainly still been a good read.
So far, I have been really enjoying following Fassbinder again. The action though has been a little thin in the first half, mainly because of her being pregnant. However, Fassbinder being pregnant enhances her as a character. It shows how she wishes to be a caring person, as well as how much she wants to distance herself from her problems in the past.
I will let you know my full thoughts on Corpselight next Book Talk.