"WITH BEST REGARDS DASHIELL HAMMETT": EXCEEDINGLY RARE PRESENTATION FIRST EDITION OF THE MALTESE FALCON, INSCRIBED BY HIM TWO WEEKS BEFORE PUBLICATION—"HAMMETT'S FINEST WORK AND POSSIBLY THE BEST AMERICAN DETECTIVE NOVEL EVER WRITTEN"
HAMMETT, Dashiell. The Maltese Falcon. New York and London: Alfred A. Knopf, 1930. Octavo, original gray cloth. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $75,000.
First edition of Hammett's most famous and influential novel, inscribed by him two weeks before publication, "To Evelyn Austin with best regards Dashiell Hammett January 31, 1930."
In 1995, the Mystery Writers of America ranked The Maltese Falcon second in its top 100 mystery novels of all time (first was Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes works, and third Edgar Allan Poe's Tales of Mystery and Imagination). On its publication, the New Republic called the novel "glistening and fascinating," achieving "an absolute distinction of real art… [and] the genuine presence of myth" (Bruccoli & Layman, 119-20). "The only novel in which the famous Sam Spade appears, regarded by many as Hammett's finest work, this is possibly the best American detective novel ever written. Whatever its merits, this and the two earlier Hammett novels established the American hard-boiled private-eye novel as a subgenre of crime fiction unique to the United States" (Crown Crime Companion: Top 100 Mystery Novels 2). First edition, first printing: with no statement of edition or printing on the copyright page. "Published 14 February 1930" (Layman A3.1.a). Serially issued in five parts in Black Mask, 1929-30. Without extremely scare dust jacket. Crime and Mystery: The 100 Best Books 16. Layman A3.1.a. While the identity of the recipient remains unconfirmed, it is perhaps notable that the name "Evelyn" appears in an early story by Hammett, written during his marriage from 1921-1937 to Josephine ("Jose") Dolan, who had been his nurse while hospitalized in the 1920s. At that time Hammett "wrote a story about a soldier making love to a nurse. He called Jose 'Evelyn' and called himself 'Slim'" (Cline, Dashiell Hammett).
Any first edition of Maltese Falcon, especially a presentation copy inscribed by Hammett prior to publication, is very desirable.
Interior very fresh and crisp, light soiling to original cloth. A very rare inscribed copy.