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The Dain Curse (The Continental Op #2)

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  4,620 ratings  ·  224 reviews
Everything about the Leggett diamond heist indicated to the Continental Op that it was an inside job. From the stray diamond found in the yard to the eyewitness accounts of a "strange man" casing the house, everything was just too pat. Gabrielle Dain-Leggett has enough secrets to fill a closet, and when she disappears shortly after the robbery, she becomes the Op's prime s ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published December 5th 2002 by Orion (first published 1929)
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The Big Sleep by Raymond ChandlerThe Maltese Falcon by Dashiell HammettThe Long Goodbye by Raymond ChandlerFarewell, My Lovely by Raymond ChandlerThe Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain
Best Hardboiled PI & Noir
38th out of 522 books — 617 voters
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg LarssonThe Big Sleep by Raymond ChandlerThe Maltese Falcon by Dashiell HammettThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark HaddonMurder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Detective Fiction
68th out of 755 books — 887 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Glenn Russell

The Dain Curse by Dashiell Hammett, father of the modern crime novel, is not only an action-filled tale of misdeeds and murder, but a study of 1920s American culture and society. Within the novel’s pages, here is a sampling of what a reader will find:

First-Person Hardboiled Narrator
The unnamed Continental Op detective tells the tale in crisp, exacting language as he describes the people and places and situations he encounters. For example, here is an account of his first-time meeting a scientist
Towards the end of The Dain Curse, a female character tells the Continental Op affectionately that he is "a monster. A nice one, an especially nice one to have around when you're in trouble, but a monster just the same, without any human foolishness like love in him." While in fact he may have a bit more human foolishness than she gives him credit for, this does sum up the essence of Hammett's anti-hero. Unlike the romantic chess-playing Marlowe and even-keeled Archer who'd follow him, the Conti ...more
The best books dissolve in your hands. You get so caught up in them you don't recall moving your eyes over the lines of print or turning the pages. When a good read is open you're a thousand miles away and a hundred years ago. Unfortunately, The Dain Curse (1929) isn't that type of read. You never forget it's a book because of how it bounces when you throw it against the wall.

It starts off like dozens of other mysteries: a home is broken into and some diamonds go missing. The Continental Op is c
Nancy Oakes
Really, I'd give it a 3.8, but only because I've read some of Hammett's later works and know the genius he's capable of.

I won't go into plot (if that's what you want, then click here), but I will say that here's something very positive to be said about these old novels; this one was written in 1928 and still has a lot of power to entertain. The Dain Curse first made its appearance in Black Mask magazine as a serial released between October 1928 and January 1929; it was his second Continental Op
Jan 05, 2008 Chaz rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Chaz by: a san-fran poet

Thank you, Hammett! There's now no longer any doubt in my mind that this man was a master of detective fiction. Gabrielle Leggett is an endearing character who originally I thought was just another femme fatale who has a strong taste for morphine and cults... but this is only on the surface. After about 70 pages I thought I had everything figured out and that this long and tangled crime thriller was simple and direct. not so. The Continental Op is a tough detective and no 'sentimental sap' he is
Carla Remy
When I tried to read this in my mid twenties, I decided I didn't like it, and stopped. When I read it at, like, thirty-one, I thought I really loved it (I was going through a Continental Op hysteria - hey, he's short, fat, forty and nameless - dreamy - but, truly, the pulp hero's humble unattractiveness charms me). This time, I didn't love it so much. The Dain Curse was serialized in Black Mask in 1928-29, and I guess it's obvious. Part One and Part Two are just okay and, oh yeah, horribly racis ...more
Eric Hendrixson
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
In this Continental Op adventure – told in three connected but more easily digestible parts – the Op is hired by an insurance company to look into stolen diamonds. The theft turns out to be an inside job, and the Op uncovers a sordid family history, a past of murder and betrayal that devolves upon the hapless daughter. She is abducted by a murderous cult who use gas and illusions to bend people to their will, but no sooner is she rescued by the Op than her husband is killed on their honeymoon.

The Dain Curse is my second excursion with the Continental Op. I read Red Harvest about a year ago and really enjoyed it. In Red Harvest, the Op is battling gangsters in a mess of a town. Part of me expected the same sort of thing from the Dain Curse. While there were similar gangster-like elements, the overall plot structure was fairly different.

The Dain Curse plot is, at its heart, what you might expect from a robbery/murder mystery story. It involves a lot of intrigue, misdirection, suspense,
Riju Ganguly
Continental Op has been an operative who have excelled in operating in the grayer areas of human psyche. But, even after taking his "experiences" in such areas & aspects into account, this was one of the most convoluted mysteries that I had ever read. Later, such apparently disconnected & disparate mysteries would gel together into forming one jaw-dropping mystery in the hands of another master, Ross MacDonald. But this novel IS difficult, but classic read. Recommended.
Cathy DuPont
Well, I've read a number of books written by Dashiell Hammett which I enjoyed a lot more than this one. And of course this will not deter me from reading more of this master of the genre.
Don Frolimo
Navzdory dějovému spádu i úsečnému "telegrafickému" stylu se do Hammetta nezačítá snadno, jelikož spád brzdí neustálé komplikace zápletky a přímočaré vyprávění je natolik hutné (plné postav a dílčích detailů), že rovněž klade nemalý odpor detektivkovému hltání. V Prokletí Dainů to platí dvojnásob, jelikož sestává vlastně ze tří navazujících případů (chronologické propojení). Každý má svůj konec a teprve třetí poslední odhalí jejich vzájemné kauzální propojení (vraha). V každé epizodě se čtenář m ...more
Mariano Hortal
Una posible maldición es el hilo conductor de una novela que es ciertamente curiosa en su concepción (tres partes diferenciadas en tres escenarios distintos y delirantes de gran encanto pulp) que demuestran, una vez más, la capacidad del genio para crear tramas enrevesadas y dar posibles soluciones distintas en cada uno de las partes. Lees a Hammett, lees a algunos autores contemporáneos y se te cae el alma a los pies…
I didn't understand this book. It was bizarre enough to keep me reading but it never seemed like a sequential story. It seemed more like a series of scenarios with plausible or outlandish conclusions that just kept switching like a series of slides on a slide projector. The author may be "the best of the tough school of crime writing" but I am not interested in reading him again.
When I first picked up this book, I wasn't sure how I would respond to it. My sister recommended it to me, so I thought I'd give it a shot, but to be honest at first I was a little skeptical. However, I was surprised to find that I actually really enjoyed The Dain Curse. I liked the old-school mystery novel feel, and it made me feel like I was watching an old movie while I read it. The only problems I had with the novel were that at times it seemed like there were too many characters, and I kept ...more
This is the second work by Hammett that I have read after Red Harvest (which I will review later), and, like the first, was excellent. Reading Hammett has been my first experience with the hardboiled narration style, which I have really enjoyed so far.

The story revolves around a supposed family curse which causes most of the family and friends around a character named Gabriella to be murdered. Of course, being the good detective he is, the Continental Op knows that it is not supernatural, and s
secretly about don quixote which is non-secretly about how stories drive us mad. a little nuts but a joy.
Twisting plot line, (accidental?) murder, blown off limbs-- the best Hammett book I've ever read
There is a chronology of Hammett's life at the end of the Library of America edition, and after about 1920 a lot of the entries end with "Drinking heavily." After reading the Dain Curse that's not hard to believe. There are some four-star lines in this Continental Op story, even a few five-star zingers, but with over 40 characters and a plot that spins in circles it's not an easy book to love. But the Op is still the Op, even when Hammett is taking his readers on a maddeningly pixelated trip to ...more
Radi Radev
Една вълнуваща до задъхване книга, в която авторът ни убеждава, че родово проклятие не съществува. Но има проклети хора, които в името на парите са готови на всякакви престъпления.
Трагичното тук е, че жертва на измисленото проклятие е едно невинно създание, което е превърнато в наркоман от своята леля, и цял живот живее с вината, че е носител на страшно проклятие.
Габриел Легет се оказва сред безсъвестни, алчни хора, които успяват да я обградят с трупове, внушавайки и, че тя е убиецът. Отблъскващ
Jun 20, 2014 Mark added it
THE DAIN CURSE is far from Hammett's best novel--in fact, it's a bit of a mess--but even bad Hammett is worth reading. Like RED HARVEST before it, DAIN feels like three sort-of-related novellas gummed together; HARVEST has a stronger hardboiled thread (including violence and revenge) pulling the whole thing together, whereas DAIN comes across almost as three different genre stories, united only by a peculiar femme fatale who always seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Style wins out ...more
Brandon Cooper
Part of the fun of a Hammett novel is the fact that you tend to like elements that you wouldn't typically appreciate: an overcomplicated plot, a protagonist with almost no characterization, absurd plot developments, etc. But here they are in abundance in The Dain Curse, and you don't seem to mind. Sure, there are moments where the separate segments can feel a little disconnected, and most likely these plots originated with Hammett's unused short stories. And it's fair to say that the ending does ...more
Re-read this after many years to specifically re-visit Hammett's storytelling structure, which as far as I know is still relatively unique: the Continental Op is called in at the beginning of the book to solve a minor diamond theft.

He does so a quarter of the way through, there's a bloody denouement, and everything seems to resolved. But The Op complains there are some unresolved questions... and in the next chapter, he's hired again to investigate something gone afoul for the same family. And a
Mar 27, 2014 Maco rated it 4 of 5 stars
Of Hammett's five novels, the weakest. This my third time to read it; for the first time really enjoyed it.

(Suggestion: the book is in thirds - take a break between each section or the emotions tend to bleed through.)

The beginnings of quixotic morality / moral dilemma that make Maltese Falcon and Glass Key truly great (to be tossed aside in Thin Man as too much work) makes its first appearance in the op's relationship to Gabrielle.

Much of the book is simply expository - having such a complex plo
El agente de la Continental es contratado por una empresa de seguros para investigar la desaparición de unos diamantes que estaban en posesión de Edgar Leggett, un químico experto en tintes a quien su dueño había cedido para que los tiñera y aumentar así su valor, pero el detective sospecha que se trata de un robo interno en que pueden estar involucrados el propio Leggett o alguien cercano a este.
Y así empieza La maldición de los Dain, historia enmarañada y confusa en momentos…mezcla de novela d
Sep 27, 2010 Mike rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Once again The Continental Op sallies forth in novel-length format. I'm not sure why the collective wisdom slots this in at 3.6 (versus higher rankings for "The Continental Op" and "Red Harvest"). Here you have a tale of intrigue that while not quite as screwy as Raymond Chandler's "The Big Sleep" is certainly dark and convoluted. Another fine example of what many ignore as they know Hammett only for "The Maltese Falcon" or "The Thin Man". Pick up a copy and enjoy some excellent writing.
Jack Harding
The Dain Curse is the second of the Continental Op books by Dashiell Hammett; the first being Red Harvest. In this book, The Op is put on a case by his agency involving a diamond heist from a rich family, the Leggetts. Everything at first points to it being an inside job. The Op sees first hand that the family is extremely dysfunctional. There is said to be a curse on the home involving the wife, a woman named whose maiden name is Dain. Anyone involved with the Daines is said to end up dead quic ...more
The Continental Op’s (he’s never named) assignment is to investigate the theft of diamonds from the Leggett family home. When one of the two suspects is quickly found murdered, the Leggetts’ story about what really happened begins to unravel. As it does, the past and the present slowly reveal themselves in a quagmire of trouble.

For most novels, this would be enough material to fill one book, but for Dashiell Hammett, this is only the first of three parts that become steadily darker and seedier a
Vincent Darlage
Not nearly as good as the first Hammett novel I read (Red Harvest) because it is inconsistent in tone, and drags on through three mysteries centered around a single woman. I like the Continental Op, but this one was problematic. The clues were really not evident because everyone kept confessing to crimes they didn't commit. In a lot of ways, it was like the Clue movie, with multiple conclusions that all make equal sense. There were too many characters, and instead of detecting, the author would ...more
Readers of Red Harvest who suspect that Dashiell Hammett got paid by the corpse will have their suspicions confirmed by The Dain Curse. The chief difference between the novels is that while the town-tamer plot of Red Harvest has a kind of hardboiled dignity, the psychodrama of The Dain Curse is, to use the Continental Op’s own word, “goofy.” And the Op is being kind.
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  • The Ivory Grin
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Also wrote as Peter Collinson, Daghull Hammett, Samuel Dashiell, Mary Jane Hammett

Samuel Dashiell Hammett was an American author of hardboiled detective novels and short stories. Among the enduring characters he created are Sam Spade (The Maltese Falcon), Nick and Nora Charles (The Thin Man), and the Continental Op (Red Harvest and The Dain Curse). In addition to the significant influence his nove
More about Dashiell Hammett...

Other Books in the Series

The Continental Op (6 books)
  • Red Harvest
  • The Big Knockover: Selected Stories and Short Novels
  • The Continental Op
  • The Return of the Continental Op
  • Nightmare Town

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“Are you – who make your living snooping – sneering at my curiosity about people and my attempts to satisfy it?" "We're different," I said. "I do mine with the object of putting people in jail, and I get paid for it, though not as much as I should." "That's not different," he said. "I do mine with the object of putting people in books, and I get paid for it, though not as much as I should." "Yeah, but what good does that do?" "God knows. What good does putting them in jail do?" "Relieves congestion," I said. "Put enough people in jail, and cities wouldn't have traffic problems.” 0 likes
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