Study Guide

The Maltese Falcon Tough-o-Meter

By Dashiell Hammett

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(6) Tree Line

The Maltese Falcon will keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. Seriously, we bet you won't be able to put it down. Hammett's ability to create suspense, along with his straightforward writing, makes this novel a quick and, in many ways, easy read. But that's not to say that The Maltese Falcon doesn't pose any challenges to its readers. There's a lot more going on than just fast-paced dialogue, thrilling treasure hunts, and dangerous gunfights.

Consider, for example, how many lies are told over the course of the novel. If we had a dollar for every time a character covers up the truth, we'd rack up a mini-fortune by the time we were done reading. Pretty much everyone in the novel has a secret they're hiding. And if it's next to impossible to get the truth out of people, you can't help but wonder whether truth can even exist in such a dishonest world. Reading Maltese Falcon is like driving through a maze of lies and deceit: you don't know where to turn to find someone you can trust.

So turn up your collar, and settle in for a long, bumpy ride. You're about to enter Hammettville.

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