The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett
Loved this so much. Nick and Nora Charles are a fantastic duo.
The Thin Man is at once a murder mystery and a comedy of manners set in 1930s New York. It is just a classic detective story. There’s plenty of drinking, speakeasies, and murder. Nick Charles is a hard-drinking retired detective visiting New York his wife Nora, and (of course) there’s a murder and Nick gets pulled into helping to solve it. Nick and Nora are wonderful — their relationship is one of booze, excitement in the face of danger, and witty banter. An example:
Nora: “How do you feel?”
Nick: “Terrible. I must’ve gone to bed sober.”
“How about a drop of something to cut the phlegm?
Why don’t you stay sober today?
We didn’t come to New York to stay sober.”
Like I said, alcohol and wit. I’m a fan of the detective noir story with a little bit of humor (à la Gun, With Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem, one of my favorite books), and The Thin Man delivers. Even though it’s not quite as famous as The Maltese Falcon, I’m glad I picked up The Thin Man as my introduction to Hammett — it was a quick read, fun, and helped drag me out of a bit of a reading slump. The writing is sparse and economical but witty and comic. I will definitely be picking up The Maltese Falcon and more of Hammett’s books.
The problem with putting two and two together is that sometimes you get four, and sometimes you get twenty-two.