Dashiell Hammett: Crime Stories and Other Writings (Library of America)

Dashiell Hammett: Crime Stories and Other Writings (Library of America)


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In the stories and novellas he wrote for Black Mask and other pulp magazines in the 1920s and 1930s, Dashiell Hammett took the detective story and turned it into a medium for capturing the jarring textures and revved-up cadences of modern American life. In this volume, The Library of America collects the finest of these stories: twenty-four in all, along with some revealing essays and an earlier version of his novel The Thin Man.

Mixing melodramatic panache and poker-faced comedy, a sensitivity to place and a perceptive grasp of social conflict, Hammett’s stories are hard-edged entertainments for an era of headlong change and extravagant violence. For the heroic sagas of earlier eras Hammett substituted the up-tempo, devious, sometimes nearly nihilistic exploits of con men and blackmailers, fake spiritualists and thieving politicians, slumming socialites and deadpan assassins.

As a guide through this underworld he created the Continental Op, the nameless, laconic detective, world-weary and unblinking, who serves as protagonist of most of these stories. The deliberately unheroic Op is separated only by his code of professionalism from the brutality and corruption that run rampant in stories such as “Zigzags of Treachery,” “Dead Yellow Women,” “Fly Paper,” and “$106,000 Blood Money.”

Hammett’s years of experience as a Pinkerton detective give even his most outlandishly plotted mysteries a gritty credibility, and his intimate knowledge of San Francisco made him the perfect chronicler of that city’s waterfronts, back alleys, police stations, and luxury hotels. By connecting crime fiction to the realities of American streets and American speech, his Black Mask stories opened up new vistas for generations of writers and readers.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781931082006
Publisher: Library of America
Publication date: 09/10/2001
Series: Library of America Series
Pages: 934
Product dimensions: 5.21(w) x 8.14(h) x 1.17(d)

About the Author

Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961), a master of the hard-bolied detective fiction, was the author of The Maltese FalconThe Thin Man, and the Continental Op stories, among other celebrated works.

Date of Birth:

May 27, 1894

Date of Death:

January 10, 1961

Place of Birth:

St. Mary, Maryland

Place of Death:

New York


Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

Table of Contents

Crime Stories
Arson Plus3
Slippery Fingers22
Crooked Souls35
The Tenth Clew52
Zigzags of Treachery84
The House in Turk Street123
The Girl with the Silver Eyes146
Women, Politics and Murder191
The Golden Horseshoe219
Nightmare Town264
The Whosis Kid310
The Scorched Face356
Dead Yellow Women395
The Gutting of Couffignal450
The Assistant Murderer483
Creeping Siamese522
The Big Knock-Over538
$106,000 Blood Money592
The Main Death636
This King Business659
Fly Paper711
The Farewell Murder745
Woman in the Dark783
Two Sharp Knives829
Other Writings
The Thin Man: An Early Typescript847
From the Memoirs of a Private Detective905
"Suggestions to Detective Story Writers"910
Note on the Texts926

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Dashiell Hammett: Crime Stories and Other Writings (Library of America) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
teckelvik on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
TedMorgan More than 1 year ago
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.