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The Continental Op (The Continental Op Short Stories)

4.16  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,300 Ratings  ·  142 Reviews
Dashiell Hammett is the true inventor of modern detective fiction and the creator of the private eye, the isolated hero in a world where treachery is the norm. The Continental Op was his great first contribution to the genre and these seven stories, which first appeared in the magazine Black Mask, are the best examples of Hammett's early writing, in which his formidable li ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published 2004 by Orion (first published 1930)
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Dan Schwent
Apr 04, 2012 Dan Schwent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Continental Op is a collection of short stories starring Dashiell Hammett's detective character, The Continental Op. Here are just some of the tales contained within.

The Tenth Clew: Millionaire Leopold Gantvoort is found dead and signs point to the mysterious Emil Bonfils. But what of the more obvious suspect, Gantvoort's 23 year old wife to be?

Not a bad way to start the collection. I've never read a story where someone had their head bashed in with a typewriter before. The mystery was prett
For a 1920s collection from the early days of hardboiled PI stories this collection has several brilliant stories. Also a main character in the OP whose narrative is so interesting that he could carry many collections/books more on his own.

The OP is so different from other hardboiled PI's and not only in his looks. He is much more in control of his emotions,actions and only cares about doing his job. The stories are darker, more corrupt world than the latter more traditional detective stories th
Extended review to follow. I've got some catching up to do. I'll just start by saying "Thanks" to goodreads group "Pulp Fiction" for selecting this one as April's read. Hammett is a favorite of mine. However, I had not read the Continental Op short fiction. These are gems.

At first impression, these stories may seem to come across as a little on the old fashioned side. The lingo is clearly from an earlier time. But the contemporary reader of hard-boiled fiction wouldn't have so much on the shelf
Ross Lockhart
Jun 27, 2007 Ross Lockhart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hammett’s Continental Op could easily be called the Anti-Sam Spade. Anonymous, overweight, and absolutely loyal to his employer, the Op is one of the finest first-person narrators in all of hardboiled literature, and this collection of short stories bristles with ‘30s slang, droll humor, and plenty of Bay-Area verisimilitude.
Apr 09, 2012 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Say, listen. You don’t know me and I don’t know you, but we have an "acquaintance," shall we say, in common. It’s that bird over at the Continental Detective Agency. You know who I mean. Short, pudgy fall. Stubborn as a mule. You know him ‘cause some other bird name of Hammett wrote up some of his cases and published it under the moniker “The Continental Op.” I know ‘im ‘cause he’s the lout what put me here in Alcatraz.

Yeah, I read 'is book. Read in about a day and a half. (What else do I have t
Patrick McCoy
Apr 09, 2012 Patrick McCoy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-noir, classics
I’ve been on a crime novel kick recently and the latest is one of the Dashiell Hammett books I haven’t read The Continental Op. It is a collection of stories-some interlocking about the detective agency unnamed continental operative. There’s a very good introduction written by Steve Marcus who makes some good observations about Hammett. For example, he summarizes Hammett’s philosophy that “ despite everything we have learned and everything we know, men will persist in behaving and trying to ...more
May 12, 2008 Chaz rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of vintage crime and short stories.

Hammett's Continental Op picked up where he left off (or began) in the “Red Harvest”. Here he created the prototype ‘gumshoe’ for future detective novels with this of the tough, emotionally hardened, surly character. This compilation brings the Continental Operative to various cities and different missions. There are about six or seven stories ranging between 40 – 60 pages. Each piece of pulp fiction presents a charming dialogue and a razor sharp - machine gun driven plot. Someone said brevity
Sep 27, 2010 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
As you can see I read this years and years ago (when the vintage series came out with these nice reprints of Hammett's works).

I don't consider this his best work, but like all of his books it is well-crafted and very enjoyable. The "Continental" Op (operative) is based on experiences that Hammett himself experienced as a Pinkerton detective or heard from other Pinkerton agents.

The Op is nothing like Sam Spade or Nick Charles, but if you like mystery and hard-boiled, American detective fiction, y
Apr 03, 2015 Tony rated it liked it
DASHIELL HAMMETT: THE CONTINENTAL OP. (this ed. 1974; orig. 1920s) Dashiell Hammett. ***.
This is a collection of Hammett’s short stories that originally appeared in BLACK MASK magazine in the 1920s that featured the Continental Op as the hero. The Continental was a member of a protection agency much like the Pinkerton of the day. He had no name; he was just referred to as an “Op.” The seven stories that appear in this book often served as the basis of the longer plots that Hammett used in his no
This gets the full five stars. Prototype hard boiled detective stuff that holds up well eighty some years after being written. It's a collection of short stories that would work as a tv series in the present. The continental oop was Hammett's precursor for Sam Spade. Most of the CO stories are available in three anthologies so I'll be obtaining the other two. I'll probably explore some Raymond Chandler also.
Apr 11, 2011 JZ rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: mystery, own
Early short stories from the rightly famous author of The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man.
I liked to see the writing style and the development of the impassive detective. My version came with an intro by Lillian Hellman. Almost as interesting as the stories themselves.
Mar 13, 2015 George rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime-mystery
Πέρασε πολύς καιρός από την τελευταία φορά που διάβασα Ντάσιελ Χάμετ και η αλήθεια είναι ότι μου έλειψε. Το βιβλίο που μόλις τελείωσα αποτελείται από επτά ιστορίες, με πρωταγωνιστή και αφηγητή τον ανώνυμο ιδιωτικό ντετέκτιβ του Ηπειρωτικού Γραφείου Ερευνών, Κοντινένταλ Οπ. Ποιες είναι οι ιστορίες:

1. Το δέκατο κουβάρι: Ο εκατομμυριούχος μεσήλικας Λέοπολντ Γκάντβουρτ βρίσκεται νεκρός και κάποιος Εμίλ Μπονφίς είναι ο βασικός ύποπτος. Όμως πολλά στοιχεία βγαίνουν στην φόρα, τα οποία μπερδεύουν ακόμα
Apr 13, 2011 Matt rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime
I had some initial difficulty adjusting to the language and time period involved in these stories but it was well worth the effort to do so.

The unnamed Operative of the Continental Detective Agency is the consummate, focused professional; nothing stands between him and completing his job (certainly nothing very much like "morals" or the letter of the law).

Depending on the story the Op is often on the borderline between the "maverick" cop who bends the rules to bring the "bad guys" to justice (bu
Aug 06, 2010 Andrew rated it really liked it
Dashiell Hammett was born in St. Mary's County, Maryland. He grew up in Baltimore. He worked as a detective for the infamous Pinkerton agency before quitting over political differences. He served in both World Wars. Later in life, he became a card-carrying member of the American Communist Party. He also invented modern crime fiction.

This isn't a comprehensive collection of Hammet's Continental Op cycle, but it does have a good selection of representative stories. The nameless protagonist is the
Mar 04, 2014 Ben rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mostly-read
I was a little disappointed with this collection of stories. Part of the problem was I had grand - and unfair - expectations after reading The Maltese Falcon a while ago. This is not The Maltese Falcon. Part of the appeal of that book is the character of Sam Spade; the Continental Op is not nearly as interesting. In fact, he's not really very interesting at all. The other appeal was the terse, almost cinematic style. Here the shift to first person removes much of the elegance of the writing. It ...more
Jul 26, 2016 Nomadman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd never read any of Hammett's short fiction before and was pleasantly surprised by what I found. These are brisk, snappy stories that are ludicrous fun to read and more on the action side of the spectrum than the sleuthing, which suited me just fine. The Golden Horseshoe and The Girl With the Silver Eyes were my favourites of the bunch, though the oddly surreal The Farewell Murder was probably the most memorable piece, with its mix of African tribal curses, Russian millionaires and a psychopat ...more
Dec 06, 2015 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Esquire had a list of the 75 books every man should read, and I noticed this book was on it, one of the few Dashiell Hammett books I hadn't read.

It was a perfect read for me because they were a series of short stories that I could read in the morning before work. Anyone who likes good detective stories should like Hammett's hard-boiled characters anyway, but the no-named Op just reads like Bogart (or perhaps a huskier version of him).

"The Golden Horseshoe," the first story, is probably my favo
Ron Arden
If you like old style, hard-boiled detective stories, this book is for you. It's a collection of short stories that Hammett wrote featuring the Continental Op. He's a tough detective in his 40s that works for the Continental Detective Agency. Most of the stories take place in and around San Francisco in the 1920s and 30s.

The Continental Op was the prototype that Hammett used for Sam Spade. He also inspired a lot of detectives, such as Raymond Chandler's Marlowe. As I was reading this book, I kep
Zachary Rawlins
Oct 25, 2011 Zachary Rawlins rated it really liked it
The Man with No Name - no, not Clint Eastwood, the other one - the Continental Op, Hammett's squat, sardonic and almost unstoppable detective protagonist, who manages never to be named in all of his man appearances. This book is so noir it will stain your fingers black, nothing but treacherous dames, conniving crooks and murders, scheming heiresses, and issues of race and social class that seem almost modern. Not to mention that the Continental Op takes a ridiculous beating in virtually every st ...more
Jan 18, 2012 Carmen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't realize this was a short story collection until I was halfway through the first story. I understand that the Continental Op character is the archetype for hard-boiled fiction and that Hammett wrote these stories based on his own experiences as a Pinkerton detective, but they aren't necessarily great. They feel like pulp magazine fiction and are generally straightforward 'and-then-this-happened-and-this-happened-after-that." I understand that Hammett's writing became more nuanced by the ...more
Aug 10, 2011 Mister rated it really liked it
A collection of some of Hammett's stories with the Continental Operative, his nameless character from half his books and a few dozen short stories. They are all very entertaining watching the operative do the only thing he is interested in doing - getting the bad guys. He's an unromantic, overweight, unattractive, slob of a guy who regardless of the circumstances just acts like he is the toughest guy in the room and does his best to get into circumstances where he needs to be. He doesn't make a ...more
Lorraine Montgomery
This is a collection of Dashiell Hammett stories about The Continental Op , a nameless, hardboiled detective from another era in the annals of American crime fiction. Hammett (1894-1961), better known for his characters Sam Spade and The Thin Man (played in movies by Humphrey Bogart and William Powell, respectively), his stories about the dispassionate P.I. from the Continental Detective Agency, modelled on the Pinkerton Agency, have a life of their own and are a delightful, easy read for l ...more
Dec 01, 2014 gaby rated it liked it
Shelves: crime, mystery, noir
Hammett's San Francisco is the older brother to Chandler's Los Angeles (and grand-daddy to Ellroy's America). The city's alleys slick with wet fog, bad cigars and dark hearts. The bay a constant, cold beacon, less a landscape than a mechanism for orientation when you've got a bullet in the gut. Our city may have lost almost all of her all-night diners and soda fountain neon to the vagaries of the 21st century, but there's still not much better than reading these stories during a hearty December ...more
Jul 22, 2014 Eva rated it it was amazing
Classic, featuring the typical mulishly stubborn, fast-talking, wise-cracking, anonymous detective narrator. Hammett seems to focus on casting San Francisco as an actual character in this one -- as if the city itself is responsible for half of the murders he describes. It's replete with shadows, intrigues, and nothing is exactly as it seems.

My favorite incident in the book was probably the Main murder. Guy meets girl, guy has affair her, girl swindles guy out of money, guy despairs. The sucker
Fabio Tassi
Jul 06, 2014 Fabio Tassi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: narrativa, noir, italiano
L'operator senza nome dell'agenzia investigativa Continental è il protagonista dei racconti pubblicati dall'autore negli anni venti sul pulp magazine Black Mask e dei suoi due primi grandi romanzi: Red Harvest (Piombo e Sangue) e The Dain Curse (Il Bacio della Violenza) entrambi nel 1929. Quest'opera è il frutto autobiografico dell'esperienza diretta di Hammett come agente della Pinkerton, fin quando il degenerare della tubercolosi (e una forte dipendenza dall'alcol) non lo costrinsero al ritiro ...more
Jun 29, 2014 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hammett fans, hard-boiled fans, mystery fans
Recommended to Michael by: Serendipity
Shelves: pulp-fiction, mystery
On the back of the book, there’s a quote from Raymond Chandler, that somehow embodies up my feelings about both him and Hammett. It reads, “Hammett was spare, hard-boiled, but he did over and over what only the best writers can ever do. He wrote scenes that seemed never to have been written before.” Almost everything about this quote is wrong, which is pure Chandler, but yet somehow it captures what is right in Hammett. Perhaps it was truer when he wrote it (I suppose the thirties or forties) th ...more
David Rush
Sometimes with these stories from the 1920’s I had to remind myself Hammett is not waxing nostalgic for a bygone era. But I wonder if some of the now arcane language was clear to the readers of that time

“You’re not foxing Milk River, are you?” she asked point-blank.

I guess I should have made the connection from the phrase to “out-fox” somebody, but I didn’t and I had to google it. Did that phrase ring true in 1927?

Word use issues aside, I really liked the tone and the language of these stories.
Joel Mitchell
Jan 16, 2016 Joel Mitchell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-crime
This collection of stories starring (and narrated by) the anonymous operative from the Continental Detective Agency is everything you would expect from Dashiell Hammett - a "hard-boiled" detective, mysterious damsels in distress, widespread corruption, and plenty of gunplay.

Personally I prefer the Op to Hammett's better-known Sam Spade (from The Maltese Falcon). Like Spade, the Op is cynical, laconic, and stubborn in his pursuit of justice...occasionally using morally ambiguous means to bring it
Oct 03, 2010 D-day rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
These are some of the earliest of Hammet's stories featuring the unnamed 'Continental Op'.
Most of them are good, but the only one that approaches the excellence of the the Continental Op novels ('Red Harvest' and 'The Dain Curse')is 'the Main Murder'. In this story Hammet displays his talent for creating memorable secondary characters and crackling dialogue.
Apr 10, 2012 Cyndi rated it really liked it
So this dude...the Continental Op....he's a streetwise tough in his own right, who doesn't seem to mind getting his hands dirty. The Frisco PD should be glad he stays, for the most part, on the right side of the law.

This collection epitomizes the heart of good noir. I have already ordered Red Harvest from the library. Glad to have read it.
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Pulp Fiction: The Continental Op 18 69 Mar 18, 2013 12:36PM  
Pulp Fiction: April 2012 - The Continental Op 34 63 May 10, 2012 03:27AM  
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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 Dain Curse
  • The Big Knockover: Selected Stories and Short Novels
  • The Return of the Continental Op
  • Nightmare Town

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“The face she made at me was probably meant for a smile. Whatever it was, it beat me. I was afraid she'd do it again, so I surrendered” 17 likes
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