The Thin Man

The Thin Man

"The Thin Man" (1934) is a hardboiled detective novel by Dashiell Hammett. Although he never wrote a sequel, the book became the basis for a successful film series which also began in 1934 with "The Thin Man" and starred William Powell and Myrna Loy. A "Thin Man" television series followed in the 1950s.

An early draft of the story, written several years before the published version, and now in print in several collections of Hammett's work, does not mention the main characters of the novel, Nick and Nora Charles, and breaks off after ten chapters. It is about a quarter of the length of the finished book.

"The Thin Man" was Hammett's last novel. Lillian Hellman, in an introduction to a compilation of Hammett's five novels, contemplated on several explanations for Hammett's retirment as a novelist:

I have been asked many times over the years why he did not write another novel after "The Thin Man". I do not know. I think, but I only think, I know a few of the reasons: he wanted to do a new kind of work; he was sick for many of those years and getting sicker. But he kept his work, and his plans for work, in angry privacy and even I would not have been answered if I had ever asked, and maybe because I never asked is why I was with him until the last day of his life.

Plot summary

The story is set in Prohibition-era New York City. The main characters are a former private detective, Nick Charles, and his clever young wife, Nora. Nick, son of a Greek immigrant, has given up his career since marrying Nora, a wealthy socialite, and he now spends most of his time cheerfully getting drunk in hotel rooms and speakeasies. Nick and Nora have no children, but they do own a schnauzer named Asta, changed to a wire haired fox terrier for the movies.

The two decide to investigate a murder because Nora thinks it will be fun. The case brings them in contact with a rather grotesque family, the Wynants, and also with an assortment of policemen and lowlifers. As they attempt to solve the case, Nick and Nora share a great deal of banter and snappy dialogue, along with copious amounts of alcohol. The characters of Nick and Nora are often thought to reflect the personalities of Hammett and his long-time lover, Lillian Hellman.

Because the "Thin Man" title was used for the subsequent movies, there is a widespread misapprehension that the term refers to Nick Charles himself; in fact it refers to Clyde Wynant, the mysterious and eccentric patriarch around whom the plot revolves.

See also

* Nick and Nora Charles


* Holiday House, 2001 (reprint), ISBN 1-883402-70-0, Hardbound
* Vintage, 1989 (reprint), ISBN 0-679-72263-7, Paperback
* REB, Inc. (Renaissance Ebooks), 2006, ISBN not available, Audio Book


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • (the) Thin Man — The Thin Man [The Thin Man] a crime novel (1932) by the US writer Dashiell Hammett in which he created the married couple of Nick and Nora Charles. They solved crimes together and often discussed them in a humorous way. It was made into a film… …   Useful english dictionary

  • The Thin Man — Der dünne Mann (engl. The Thin Man) ist ein amerikanischer Kriminalroman von Dashiell Hammett aus dem Jahr 1934. Es war Hammetts letzter Roman. Das Buch verfasste er, nachdem er etwa drei Jahre lang aufgrund seiner Alkoholabhängigkeit keinen… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • The Thin Man (Film) — Filmdaten Deutscher Titel: Der dünne Mann / Der Unauffindbare / Mordsache „dünner Mann“ Originaltitel: The Thin Man Produktionsland: USA Erscheinungsjahr: 1934 Länge: 87 Minuten Originalsprache …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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