The story goes like this: my wife brought this home from book club. It’s Michigan’s The Big Read, see, and one of her fellow bookclubbers works at the Ferndale Public Library and had a raft of copies. Zena’s not interested, though — all she can think of is Garrison Keillor’s Guy Noir. But she picks it up, and when I needle her about it a few days later, she’s done a 180, she loves it, she can’t get enough of it, see? Which is enough to pique my interest, and here we are.
It’s a page turner, that’s for sure, with a great lead character, Sam Spade, a hard-boiled Detective who doesn’t trust anyone, listens when money talks and treats women like he owns them. He’s got an ethic, but it’s not a moral ethic — if your partner gets iced, you find and capture his killer, and you don’t chase a rabbit just to let him go.
It was amusing, reading the genesis of decades of Tough Dick Cliché. I’ve never seen the movie, so I came to it fresh — didn’t know a thing about the plot. Lots of descriptions of yellow or glowing eyes, set jaws, weak knees, etc. Very of its time. Women were dames and men were Men, a certain decorum reigned even among the riff raff, untrustworthy elements were “swarthy” or “Levantine,” on and on. Can you see why it would be enchanting?
If you can, I recommend it.