OCEANSIDE — “The Maltese Falcon” by Dashiell Hammett will be this year’s citywide Big Read, with events planned throughout the month of February to involve residents in reading and enjoying the book together.
The detective mystery takes place in the late 1920s. Private detective Sam Spade is approached by a beautiful, mysterious woman who asks him to help her find her sister when in fact she is looking for a small, jewel-encrusted falcon statue.
“It’s the quintessential detective novel,” Kristine Moralez, Oceanside Public Library community outreach coordinator, said. “All others were measured against it. It’s classic American-style noir fiction.”
The novel written in the 1930s captures the 1920s well with characters using phrases like “dames” and “giving people the business.”
Planned Big Read events aim to take readers beyond the book and share information about the author, genre and time period.
The Big Read kick off is Feb. 5 at the City Council meeting. The mayor will proclaim the beginning of the Big Read program and copies of the book will be given out.
Then a theatrical film noir concert, featuring singer Laura Ellis, will be held at the Sunshine Brooks Theatre on Feb. 8 to celebrate music of the 1920s.
Next “The Falcon in Film: From Hammett to Huston” will be shown at the Oceanside Museum of Art Feb. 20.
Prior to the film screening, Julie Rivett, granddaughter of Dashiell Hammett, will speak about her grandfather’s work.
“She’s going to be describing hardboiled fiction and classic film noir,” Moralez said.
Rivett will also share insights into Hammett’s life and writing.
An author panel of noted local crime writers will be at the Civic Center Library on Feb. 22. The panel will include authors Alan Russell, Taffy Cannon, Lisa Brackmann, Debra Ginsburg and Ken Kuhlken.
The final Big Read event will be a golden days of radio recreation of “The Maltese Falcon” that will allow audience members to see how sound effects are created.
All events are free.
“The Malted Falcon: A Chet Gecko Mystery” by Bruce Hale has been selected as the accompanying “Little Read” for readers age 13 and under.
It is the story of a tall chocolate falcon that nobody is able to eat in one sitting.
The Little Read encourages children to join in the communitywide read.
“Kids see their parents read and love it that much more,” Moralez said.
Children’s activities will be held to support themes in “The Malted Falcon.”
This is the third annual Big Read to be held in Oceanside.
Previous Big Read selections were “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston and “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien.
Last year 600 people read “Their Eyes Were Watching God” during the Big Read and 1,300 people took part in Big Read activities centered around the book.