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Best Mystery Novel Ever! The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett

November 30, 2017

Calling a novel the best ever in its genre is a bit hyperbolic because nobody has read every single book in any given genre. Plus, there’s no way to prove that a book is the best ever in any category because no matter what book you choose, somebody is going to disagree. For example, some mystery lovers think Murder on the Orient Express is the best mystery novel ever, and I heard this opinion several times when the movie came out a few weeks ago.

I like Murder on the Orient Express, but I don’t think it’s the best mystery ever. If there is such a thing as a best mystery novel ever, I think it is The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett.

Dysfunctional Literacy

Nick Charles with Asta instead of his wife Nora

Determining the “best mystery ever” can be difficult because so many mysteries are so similar.  Despite various sub-genres (the whodunit, the hardboiled, the “think like a killer to catch a serial killer”), once you’ve read a couple within each category, you’ve read them all.

But a BEST MYSTERY EVER should be a unique book.  It should combine all elements (except for the “think like a killer to catch a killer” because those suck).  It should be both a hardboiled detective story and a whodunit.  It should be so good that it can’t be copied (though it might have been tried).  And that book is The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammet.


The Thin Man is known for Nick and Nora Charles, the first (that I know about) husband-and-wife detective duo.  Maybe by 1930s standards, Nora was considered part of the sleuthing team, but by today’s criteria, she just…

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