I try not to be swayed by reviews or glowing descriptions of creative works. I like to approach these things with a healthy dose of skepticism. One of the most celebrated American writers (I won't mention the name) is considered boring and overrated by some. I understand that simplicity and forthrightness have their appeal, but I much prefer writers who employ "vivid, colorful metaphors," to quote Larry Beinhart above. An overly simple writing style gives me the same impression I get from watching actors who complete an entire movie with the same detached, inperturbable facial expression. Rather than change their facial expressions to match their scenes, they remain calm in the face of tragedy and other situations that would emotionally devastate normal people. This acting style is extolled in some quarters, and indeed has been vindicated by the iconoclastic status that two of its adherents (who I will not name) enjoy today. It is supposed to represent masculinity and the ability to remain calm in the face of turmoil. I don't feel that way; I consider it a clever way to disguise a lack of acting talent.
Bill, I just posted about losing the library's CDs of The Maltese Falcon, and then scrolled up and saw your post. I must confess that I took out your Of All Sad Words a couple of months ago. I enjoyed it immensely but then managed to misplace or lose that as well. Before I take out any more books, I'll need to pay for them to replace it, so at least it'll mean another sale for you! (I'll make sure to specify that they should reorder your book.)
BTW, managing to lose two library mysteries in the same month is not at all typical - till now, I've always managed to find them. I hope it's not the beginning of a trend.
Though the language is sparse and unemotional, it's interesting how much time Sam Spade spends reflecting about the nature of the world. It's also an odd book in that much of the action (people getting killed, etc.) takes place "off-screen." The "off-screen" stuff is very hard to handle effectively, so it's really not a model for other thrillers.
I've never read it, but my husband and I listened to an audio version driving to and from Bouchercon - hours and hours of excruciating detail. The physical descriptions of characters are especially repetitious, as are the bits of stage business, like the lighting of cigarettes. We finally lost interest about 2/3 of the way through. Then the whole CD set somehow disappeared, and my husband can't use his library card till we find it. That's the most mysterious thing about the whole experience.
Perhaps I'll feel differently if and when I get around to trying it in traditional book form, but it's not on my agenda any time soon. No doubt it had more impact back in the day.