Hammett: Complete Novels: Complete Novels

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Overview

In a few years of extraordinary creative energy, Dashiell Hammett invented the modern American crime novel.. "The five novels that Hammett published between 1929 and 1934, collected here in one volume, have become part of modern American culture, creating archetypal characters and establishing the ground rules for a whole tradition of hardboiled writing.. "Each novel is distinct in mood and structure. Red Harvest (1929), a raucous and nightmarish evocation of political corruption and gang warfare in a western ...
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Overview

In a few years of extraordinary creative energy, Dashiell Hammett invented the modern American crime novel.. "The five novels that Hammett published between 1929 and 1934, collected here in one volume, have become part of modern American culture, creating archetypal characters and establishing the ground rules for a whole tradition of hardboiled writing.. "Each novel is distinct in mood and structure. Red Harvest (1929), a raucous and nightmarish evocation of political corruption and gang warfare in a western mining town, epitomizes the violence and momentum of Hammett's Black Mask stories about the anonymous detective the Continental Op. The Op returns, in The Dain Curse (1929), to preside over a more ornately melodramatic tale involving jewel theft, drugs, and a mysterious religious cult. With The Maltese Falcon (1930), and its protagonist Sam Spade, Hammett achieved his most enduring popular success. A tightly constructed quest story with an unforgettable cast of eccentric adventures, it is at the same time shot through with a sense of disillusionment and the arbitrariness of personal destiny.. "The Glass Key (1931), an exploration of city politics at their most scurrilous, traces intricate patterns of loyalty and betrayal in scenes charged with drama.. "His last novel, The Thin Man (1934), is a ruefully comic tale that pays homage to the traditional mystery form. It is best remembered for its protagonists Nick and Nora Charles, the sophisticated inebriates who would enjoy a long afterlife in the movies.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
It was a big year for Hammett. He was the subject of a TV film as well as an American Masters TV biography. Knopf, his original publisher, gathered 20 early stories, and the Library of America added his complete novels to its prestigious ranks. Long overdue recognition. (Classic Returns, LJ 8/99) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781883011673
  • Publisher: Library of America
  • Publication date: 8/28/1999
  • Series: Library of America Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 967
  • Sales rank: 406,196
  • Product dimensions: 5.12 (w) x 8.14 (h) x 1.19 (d)

Meet the Author

Dashiell Hammett
Dashiell Hammett
An elegant figure with a real background as a private eye, Hammett pioneered hard-boiled fiction with his plain-spoken dialogue and classic characters such as Sam Spade, Nick Charles, and the Continental Op. Opening the door for a slew of imitators, Hammett left an indelible mark with a relatively short body of work.

Biography

Dashiell Samuel Hammett was born in St. Mary's County. He grew up in Philadelphia and Baltimore. Hammett left school at the age of fourteen and held several kinds of jobs thereafter -- messenger boy, newsboy, clerk, operator, and stevedore, finally becoming an operative for Pinkerton's Detective Agency. Sleuthing suited young Hammett, but World War I intervened, interrupting his work and injuring his health.

When Sergeant Hammett was discharged from the last of several hospitals, he resumed detective work. He soon turned to writing, and in the late 1920s Hammett became the unquestioned master of detective-story fiction in America. In The Maltese Falcon (1930) he first introduced his famous private eye, Sam Spade. The Thin Man (1932) offered another immortal sleuth, Nick Charles. Red Harvest (1929), The Dain Curse (1929), and The Glass Key (1931) are among his most successful novels. During World War II, Hammett again served as sergeant in the Army, this time for more than two years, most of which he spent in the Aleutians.

Hammett's later life was marked in part by ill health, alcoholism, a period of imprisonment related to his alleged membership in the Communist Party, and by his long-time companion, the author Lillian Hellman, with whom he had a very volatile relationship. His attempt at autobiographical fiction survives in the story "Tulip," which is contained in the posthumous collection The Big Knockover (1966, edited by Lillian Hellman). Another volume of his stories, The Continental Op (1974, edited by Stephen Marcus), introduced the final Hammett character: the "Op," a nameless detective (or "operative") who displays little of his personality, making him a classic tough guy in the hard-boiled mold -- a bit like Hammett himself.

Author biography courtesy of Random House, Inc.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Samuel Dashiell Hammett (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 27, 1894
    2. Place of Birth:
      St. Mary, Maryland
    1. Date of Death:
      January 10, 1961
    2. Place of Death:
      New York

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 12, 2013

    great novels, and while the movies are wonderful, it's really in

    great novels, and while the movies are wonderful, it's really interesting to read the originals and see the differences.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2005

    Rediscovering Sam Spade and the Thin Man

    ¿Sam Spade, a slightly shop-worn private eye with his own solitary code of ethics. A perfumed grifter named Joel Cairo, a fat man named Gutman, and Brigid O'Shaughnessy, a beautiful and treacherous woman whose loyalties shift at the drop of a dime.¿ (Publisher¿s notes from The Maltese Falcon, 1929.) Dashiell Hammett, a most unlikely-looking gumshoe ¿ was prematurely white-haired, stood 6¿2¿ and weighed140 pounds. However the former Pinkerton detective is hailed as the `father of modern detective stories.¿ According to famed author Dorothy Parker, his most popular character Sam Spade was a private eye ¿so hard-boiled you could roll him on the White House lawn.¿ Born Samuel Dashiell Hammett in Maryland in 1894, Hammett grew up in Baltimore and Philadelphia. After leaving school at fourteen he held various jobs including newsboy, clerk, and stevedore. In 1915 he became a Pinkerton Detective working a tough urban beat. Hammett later used James Wright, a short, squat, tough-talking Pinkerton dick, as the inspiration for the detective character in The Continental Op, written under the pseudonym Peter Collinson. Hammett enjoyed sleuthing, but enlisted in the army in 1918 during World War I. Unfortunately, he contracted tuberculosis and was medically discharged within a year. He then resumed his Pinkerton work in San Francisco and began writing. By the late 1920s he was hailed as the master of American detective-story fiction. His most famous private eye, Sam Spade, was introduced in his 1930 book, The Maltese Falcon. Another memorable sleuth, Nick Charles, materialized in his novel, The Thin Man (1932). More successful books followed: Red Harvest (1929) The Dain Curse (1929) and The Glass Key (1931). When war beckoned again, Hammett again answered the call, serving as an Army sergeant in World War II. Although a fierce opponent of Nazism, he joined the American Communist Party in the 1930s. Although he did not accompany Hemingway and other writers to Spain in 1936 to participate in the Civil War, he did assist returning veterans. By 1934 after publishing The Thin Man, his writing career nearly ended. During these years, he began a tumultuous relationship with playwright Lillian Hellman (The Children's Hour, 1934 Little Foxes, 1939). Hellman was a devoted leftist and the couple concerned themselves with radical causes. The political pendulum took a conservative swing after WWII, and Hammett was called before the House on Un-American Activities Committee in 1951. When he refused to testify, in spite of his faithful military service and failing health, he was sentenced to prison for several months. His excellent detective novels were banned by the State Department. Hellman, also ordered to testify, assailed the HUAAC and was blacklisted. Hammett never wrote another novel, although he created a comic strip entitled Secret Agent X-9, an endeavor that proved fruitless. Instead he wrote a few pieces for radio, enjoyed some success through film versions of his novels, and spent ten years teaching creative writing in New York. He died penniless of lung cancer in January 1961. During his career, Hammett also published many short stories in popular pulp fiction magazines like ¿Black Mask¿. His brilliant vignettes include The Parthian Shot and The Road Home in 1922, and Arson Plus in 1923. Encouraged by ¿Black Mask¿ editor Captain Joseph Shaw, Hammett became a pulp fiction star. Some of Hammett¿s characters are based on real people he knew as a Pinkerton detective. Perhaps that is why his characters are so compelling. Most of his plots save for The Thin Man, spin around tough-talking, hard-drinking, solitary men. Yet those of us old enough to remember smile at the whimsical intrigues of Nick and Nora Charles, the delightful and happily-married high-society sleuths portrayed in the wildly successful Thin Man film series. Still others remember Humph

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2000

    A Classic for every home library

    This is a classic set of detective novels from one of America's most famous detective writers.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2000

    AS GOOD AS IT GETS

    Dashiell Hammett's novels rank among the best of detective fiction. This well-made volume is a must for fans of the genre. My favorites are 'The Maltese Falcon', 'The Glass Key' and 'The Dain Curse'. But these are all great novels, nicely collected, in a handsome volume. Highly recommended.

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    Posted June 29, 2009

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    Posted May 24, 2011

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    Posted July 8, 2009

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    Posted August 20, 2009

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