Jimmy M.'s picture
Jimmy M. from New England November 16, 2013 - 5:51pm

I'm really interested in reading hardboiled fiction, but I'm not sure where to start- I'm stuck between "The Big Sleep" or "The Maltese Falcon". Which do you like the most? Or do you maybe have a better option?

 

Thanks for all any and all constructive feedback!

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 16, 2013 - 9:45pm

Personally I liked The Thin Man over The Maltese Falcon.

Also - The Postman Always Rings Twice.

But The Big Sleep is a really good read. You really can't go wrong with any of those.

Andrez Bergen's picture
Andrez Bergen from Melbourne, Australia + Tokyo, Japan is reading 'The Spirit' by Will Eisner November 19, 2013 - 1:37pm

The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep are my two favourite detective noir novels.

Ever.

P'raps The Sleep marginally pips The Falcon, but by the tiniest margin.

Agree with @Pete re: The Postman Always Rings Twice, and other options are Chandler's The Long Goodbye and Farewell, My Lovely.

A brave new world, mate.

NikKorpon's picture
NikKorpon from Baltimore is reading Book and books and books and November 19, 2013 - 2:27pm

Postman for me, then Falcon (better known though the Continental Op novels are better) then Big Sleep (though, like Falcon, other of his books are way better.) Then get into Horace McCoy, Dorothy B Hughes, Cornell Woolrich, Spillane, Jim Thompson and let go of your soul.

Bob Pastorella's picture
Bob Pastorella from Groves, Texas is reading murder books trying to stay hip, I'm thinking of you, and you're out there so Say your prayers, Say your prayers, Say your prayers November 19, 2013 - 8:21pm

Definitely Postman. If you read any of them, you have to read that one. Damn, thinking about it makes me want to read it again. 

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 20, 2013 - 7:03am

It's short enough to read in a day, Bob. That's a book that is easy to reread and doesn't feel like you're wasting time reading something you've already read.

Nik - I forgot all about Jim Thompson. Killer Inside Me is awesome. I have Pop 1280 sitting on my shelf needing to be read one day.

Have you guys read Donald Westlake's The Ax? I think I ended up having to order a used copy (at a good price if I remember). It's really good. Not really "hardboiled," but it's a great story.

Which reminds me - also pick up Richard Stark's Parker novels, starting with The Hunter.

Ben Freeman's picture
Ben Freeman from Charlottesville, Virginia is reading everything I can November 20, 2013 - 8:33am

The Thin Man is one of my favorite novels of all time. Can't really go wrong with anything listed here though.

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies November 21, 2013 - 9:54pm

yep, POSTMAN is a great place to start. and do NOT sleep on Big Jim. i'l ljust echo what Nik and Pete said, KIM and POP 1280 both great.

NikKorpon's picture
NikKorpon from Baltimore is reading Book and books and books and November 22, 2013 - 1:18pm

Oh, yeah, Stark definitely, if for no other reason than to see how a man who is completely amoral (yet not really a 'bad guy') can be so compelling. Other Westlake titles too. (Stark is a psuedonym of Westlake's.) I listed mainly classic stuff, but once you get into the 50s and 60s with Leonard and Prather and Spillane, you see a concious turn in the hardboiled style, pathos and vernacular, especially in someone like Higgins, which then brings you into the new vanguard of Pelecanos, Lippman, Lehane, Price, Connelly, Burke and on and on.

Utah's picture
Moderator
Utah from Fort Worth, TX is reading Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry November 22, 2013 - 1:25pm

James Crumley.  The Last Good Kiss

Wait, not first.  Read Hammett and Chandler first.  Then Crumley.

 

NikKorpon's picture
NikKorpon from Baltimore is reading Book and books and books and November 22, 2013 - 1:28pm

Dammit. Forgot him.

Utah's picture
Moderator
Utah from Fort Worth, TX is reading Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry November 22, 2013 - 2:08pm

I'm just glad to see somebody else has actually read him.

Ben Freeman's picture
Ben Freeman from Charlottesville, Virginia is reading everything I can November 23, 2013 - 4:33pm

James Ellroy is another one to add. There's a good primer on here somewhere...

found it!

http://www.litreactor.com/columns/on-the-down-low-and-very-hush-hush-a-james-ellroy-primer

Renfield's picture
Renfield from Hell is reading 20th Century Ghosts November 23, 2013 - 5:13pm

I'd probably start with the pulpy stuff like the aforementioned Continental Op stories and the Mike Hammer books before hitting the more atmospheric Chandler and Thompson reads. I've still never read POSTMAN though so I'd feel guilty commenting here like I have any authority on the genre.

James Crumley is some rought and tumble prose, I think his DANCING BEAR is the only one I've been able to find out in the wild and I just need to order his stuff online someday. Has anyone gotten into Gil Brewer? I'm always on the look out for paper books of his at the rare book shops because I know he's from around here. Hard Case Crime I think has started putting out a lot of his on the e-books.

The few stuff I've gotten into recently is Westlake's DORTMUNDER books, which are perfect, hardboiled  comedy type things. If you like heist movies from the 70s and snappy, layered dialogue then get those. Pretty different from the PARKER books. So that and Walter Mosley's EASY RAWLINS books.