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Red Harvest

Average Rating 4.5
( 33 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 17 review with 5 star rating   See All Ratings
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  • Posted March 8, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    "A Sweet Mess"

    "A sweet mess" is how the unnamed San Francisco Op refers to the mining (lying, stealing, blackmailing, killing)town of Poisonville (Personville).

    And what a mess it is. I lost count of the bodies at 17, about two-thirds the way through the book.

    What a tight, well-written and (despite the escalating body count) realistic book. The protagonist fears for his life, every woman doesn't automatically disrobe and sit on his face, he loses fights, gets outsmarted, admits he's 40 and out of shape.

    What a freaking breath of fresh air!

    And I only had to travel back to 1929 to get away from today's hard drinking, black belt, sniper trained, jet pilot, computer savvy superheroes who are somehow governed by their own, peculiar laws of physiology and physics.

    Here's one example from Hammett's hero: "There is nothing in running down streets with automobiles in pursuit. I stopped, facing this one. It came on."

    Reading this book I felt as if I were being written to, rather than written down at.

    Hammett is the man for all the right reasons.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 28, 2012

    Noir greatness! It has it all, the hard nosed smart detective, t

    Noir greatness! It has it all, the hard nosed smart detective, the dame, the multiple bad guys, a mystery or two to solve along the way and don't forget the grit and gore. I loved the story where our hero is one step ahead of his enemies and the reader. You never know what is happening next you just know you want to. I read this book because of it's link to Butte, MT and of course it's plot and style is linked to some of the best films in history and it did not disappoint. If you like noir it's a must read, if you want to sample what noir is all about this is a great place to start. I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more from Hammett.

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  • Posted April 5, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Great American Writer - Noir or Otherwise

    Dashiell Hammett's writing is gritty [the most commonly used adjective in all the reviews I read, but hard to get away from, because it's true], detailed and full of sarcasm. You have to read with your wits about you, or you will miss sub-contextual humor. His use of language is right up there with Mark Twain; don't get lost in the vernacular! We're only a few decades separated and yet, many passages read as if in another language. I recommend watching some old films, such as "The Maltese Falcon" and other noir classics of the 1930s and 1940s (not to mention "L.A. Confidential") to get your ear warmed to the rhythm of the lingo, because if you don't have a comfortable knowledge of words like hooch & shyster, you might feel a bit lost.

    Also, if you have an aversion to reading about smoking, drinking, drug use or prostitution, you would definitely want to stay away from this one. I was joking to myself at the beginning that one could play a drinking game and take a drink each time a character takes a drink, makes a drink, offers a drink, etc... but then, about half-way through, I reconsidered since anyone trying that game would never finish the book because they would pass out after the fifth chapter. Some readers have complained that this book is "amoral" but without giving any spoilers, I'd have to disagree and you'll have to trust me.



    The Continental Op setting up his identity at the beginning of the story confused me at first, I must be honest. I hadn't realized this was an Op novel, I just took it off the NY Times Top 100 Novels list and jumped in. Heed my warning about warming yourself into the pace of Hammett's writing. He doesn't write in short bursts of narrative or long descriptive passages, but somewhere in between. The dialogue is quick and witty, and if you blink you might miss it. Nothing is wasted but it isn't sparse. You come away from the book KNOWING the characters like you would recognize them in the street, if they weren't already dead.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2012

    Red Harvest, Shakespeare-style

    Dashiell Hammett's writing is gritty, detailed and full of sarcasm. You have to read with your wits about you, or you will miss sub-contextual humor. His use of language is right up there with Mark Twain: don't get lost in the vernacular. We're only a few decades separated and yet, it's like reading a different language. I've seen enough old movies, such as "The Maltese Falcon" and other noir classics of the 1930s and 1940s (not to mention "L.A. Confidential") that I was able to keep up, but if you don't have a comfortable knowledge of words like hooch & shyster, you might feel a bit lost.

    Also, if you have an aversion to reading about smoking, drinking, drug use or prostitution, you would definitely want to stay away from this one. I was joking to myself at the beginning that one could play a drinking game and take a drink each time a character takes a drink, makes a drink, offers a drink, etc... but then, about half-way through, I reconsidered since anyone trying that game would never finish the book because they would pass out after the fifth chapter.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 6, 2011

    So good, we named our son Dash

    An amazing novel encompassing several related stories set in "Poisonville." Hammet is a master of hard-boiled detective stories and this is his finest work.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Gritty Fun Reading

    Hammett is probably best known for The Maltese Falcon (and what an excellent read that is too) but I think Red Harvest is even better. As a newcomer to the mystery genre I decided to start with reading the "founding fathers" of American crime, Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. I have read several of each and have yet to be disappointed. Red Harvest is still at the top of my list of these two writers.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2002

    Great Detective Fiction

    Dashiell Hammett¿s ¿Red Harvest¿ is the story of one man¿s crusade against an entire town. The story begins with a nameless detective from San Francisco arriving in a small Montana mining town that the locals call ¿Poisonville¿. On arrival, he finds that his client has been murdered. He is then contracted by Elihu Willson, father of the murdered man and owner of the local newspaper, to find his son¿s killer. After finding the killer, he is given ten thousand dollars to clean the corrupt town of its warring gangs and corrupt police force. Like a good detective he forms false alliances with all sides, playing one faction against another. Consequently, the town of Poisonville then becomes even more tumultuous and the detective often finds himself in situations where he has to operate outside of his jurisdiction. "Red Harvest" is a success because of Hammett¿s dialogue, which reveals his dry, ironic sense of humor. Hammett`s stylized use of excessive violence is also beneficial to the story. His style is to use the least amount of words, for the most impact. The often cartoon-like violence amplifies the overall theme. Hammett does this to show that widespread corruption ultimately leads to the debasing of an honest individual. In Hammett¿s mind no one is innocent. Everyone in the whole town has blood on his hands and a reason to kill. When sixteen murders in a town of forty thousand occur in less than a week, the detective fears that, for some strange reason, he¿s starting to like the violence. "If I don't get away soon I'll be going blood simple like the natives," says the detective. "I've arranged a killing or two in my time, when they were necessary. But this is the first time I've ever got the fever" Hammett¿s sharp, casual dialogue shows the absurd irony that the only way the town will be cleansed is if everyone in it dies.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2001

    A TOWN READY TO EXPLODE, AND THE OP LIGHTS THE FUSE!!!

    Red Harvest is one of Dashiell Hammett's best, and the Op's greatest adventure in novel form. The Op is hired to clean up a town and he causes it to erupt in gang warfare. This is Hammett's first novel and like all of his work it's well-crafted and well-writen.

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    Posted March 3, 2011

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    Posted December 31, 2010

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    Posted January 24, 2011

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    Posted January 28, 2012

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