The Thin Man

by Dashiell Hammett
208 pages, Mystery
Reviewed by JTWinkle

Hard boiled detective fiction at its best; includes drinking/innuendo.


Wealthy and brilliant Clyde Wynant's been missing for a decade, and suddenly the family is seeking help in locating him. The Wynant family is a treasure of hard boiled detective fiction: each one of them kooky in a slightly different way. But former detective Nick Charles openly wants to spend his wealthy new wife's money and have parties. He has no interest in taking on the mystery. Nora convinces him to take on the case. The joy of the book is Nick and Nora's witty, quickfire dialogue with each other as they encounter mean, ghastly, grasping people, any of whom may have done away with Wynant.


The book is couched in a sort of light Nietzschean frame of reference: superior people are white, wealthy, and above base crime. Nick can handle drinking all the time because he is a tough guy; any drunk that they encounter got that way because he is weak. On the other hand, Nick and Nora both show more compassion towards some of the bad people they meet than the reader would expect. The bad guys do suffer from the evil that they do.

Spiritual Content



Nick punches a man who attacks his wife Nora. The police candidly discuss beating men in custody.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Nick drinks constantly and makes light of it. The book seems to celebrate those who can hold their alcohol as though that were s sign of masculinity.

Sexual Content

Some dialogue includes innuendo. Nothing explicit.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

Nothing is outright in terms of being crude or profane, but there is a lot of innuendo.


The mystery of this novel is one of the best ever written. The author makes his moral point of view clear, but it isn't overbearing. This is a great book to read, enjoy, put down, and move on to more serious literature. It's a great sample of "hard boiled detective fiction" that has a lighter, comedic touch.

Fun Score: 5
Values Score: 3
Written for Age: adult

Review Rating:

Average rating: 4 stars
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