The Thin Man
is a 1934 detective novel by Dashiell Hammett
Nick Charles, a former private detective who retired for a life of ease after marrying Nora, a wealthy socialite, is drawn into investigating a murder. The Other Wiki
notes: "As they attempt to solve the case, Nick and Nora share a great deal of banter and witty dialogue, along with copious amounts of alcohol." The "thin man" of the title is Clyde Wynant, a suspect in the case.
The novel has been largely displaced in the public consciousness
by the popular film adaptation
starring William Powell and Myrna Loy, which was followed by five sequels and a spin-off TV series, and resulted in a popular confusion about the title character; in order to keep "The Thin Man" as an overall title, in the later film sequels and the TV series the thin man of the title is Nick.
The novel provides examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Dorothy's mother beat her after she went out to see the Charleses.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The story of Alferd Packer, the man who murdered his companions in the mountains, ate their bodies, and ... took their money.
- Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Nick and Nora.
- Big Applesauce
- Big Screwed-Up Family: The Wynants.
- Gilbert admits to lying about having evidence because he is jealous of Dorry's crush on Nick; saying he wants the Big Brother Worship back then asking Nick about incest. Mimi lies about everything, taunts and beats Dorry, and is obsessed with money and attention. Dorry is reluctant to go home because she doesn't want to deal with her mother and fears that her stepfather would take advantage of her while is drunk. Jorgensen is only married to Mimi for her money and leaves without so much as a goodbye. Then there's Clyde.
- Chandler American Time
- Deadpan Snarker: Nick and Nora, especially Nick.
- Deceased Fall-Guy Gambit: Wynant is found dead.
- Dirty Old Man: Jorgensen, who came onto his wife's daughter.
- Major Injury Underreaction: When Nick gets shot he insists that he's fine but Nora and Dorry fuss over him and Nora makes him stay in bed while he heals. He really does seem fine, though.
- May-December Romance: Nick is forty-one; Nora is twenty-six. Jorgensen is said to be younger than Mimi.
- Polygamy: Jorgensen turns out to be living under a false name and still legally married to his first wife.
- Precocious Crush: Dorry on Nick.
- Private Detective: Nick Charles.
- Red Herring: There are a lot. Nick quickly figures out who the murderer is when the main suspect is revealed to have been dead the whole time.
- Retired Badass: Nick.
- Secondary Character Title: Wynant is the "thin man".
- Shaggy Dog Story: Nick points this out to nora regarding murder mysteries, he notes that despite the resolution ultimately it doesn't change anything in the lives of the people it affects. People will remain people. Crime doesn't really change society, neither does solving the crime. It only affects the victims and the killers at best.
- The Watson: Nora.
- Write Who You Know: It's generally assumed that Hammett based Nick and Nora and their relationship on himself and his partner, writer Lillian Hellman (he was also a retired detective).