Dashiell Hammett gave me my first hard-boiled/noir experience with Red Harvest. For that reason, he’ll always be special to me, even if Raymond Chandler is my favorite. So, while on a work break at the library, I snagged The Thin Man, in large part due to the fun cover. Wisecracking couples soaked in whiskey and entendre? Oke.
Thin Man is set in New York City in 1933. Nick Charles is an ex-cop and current private eye. He married up. His wife is Nora, a wealthy (I think?) and witty socialite with her own eye for mysteries. A big part of the book is their wise-cracking relationship. Sample:
We found a table. Nora said: “She’s pretty.”
“If you like them like that.”
My other favorite line, which applies as much in 2018 as in 1933:
“They’re all sex-crazy, I think, and it backs up into their heads.”
Through a series of events I understand about 65% of, old friends re-emerge in Nick and Nora’s life when a murder or three lead to the couple getting wrapped up in the police investigations, both as suspects and sleuths. The important thing to know is that they’re in New York in the 1930s in some real places of the time, they’re glamorous drunks, and they’re witty. That’s why you read the books. It’s not a procedural so much as a tour of a wild lifestyle that’s probably more fun to live vicariously than personally.
While I do like Chandler more than Hammett, Nick and Norah are great creations and I’ll definitely try to find the movie.