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Dashiell Hammett: Crime Stories and Other Writings (Library of America) based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
This is a collection primarily of short stories. There are a few other items (chiefly an early draft of what became "The Thin Man"), but the vast majority of the book is stories.I enjoyed the ones starring The Continental Op. Hammett's spare, detached style suited that character's voice. However, the voice doesn't change when the protagonist does. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the protagonist doesn't really change much - they don't tend to vary much in personality, although there are differences in surface characteristics. I found this jarring, and several times was unpleasantly jerked out of the story by the realization that what I was reading was not a Continental Op story.Those stories build a consistent world, existing in the seedy underworld of San Francisco. There are recurring characters and locations, things fit in well together. Hammett's world building is first rate. He also constructs real detective stories. There are clues, and the Continental Op figures things out, based (mostly) on material actually present on the page.Worth reading, but I'll be looking for his novels next, rather than more short stories.
I confess the bitter life Dashiell Hammett lived sometimes interferes with my pleasure in reading his stories. He loved a remarkable and even courageous life. This probably ought not to affect how I receive his work. I like the stories. He was a gifted story teller. His narratives are smooth, limber, and efficient. I probably would not have appreciated them when I was younger but I appreciate them now. They are cinematic for me. I visualize them as I read.