The Continental Op
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The Continental Op (The Continental Op Short Stories)

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  2,999 ratings  ·  113 reviews
The Violent Art of the Op.

His home base is the Continental Detective Agency in San Francisco - his field of operations, the globe. His prey-for-pay is a weird assortment of murderers and masterminds, high-class crooks and low-down punks, in capers filled with flying bullets, fabulous broads, tantalizing mystery and point-blank action. Cooler-than-cool, an ungentle man you...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published by Dell Publishing Co, Inc (first published 1930)
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Dan Schwent
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...more
Mohammed
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...more
Mike
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...more
Patrick McCoy
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 “..how despite everything we have learned and everything we know, men will persist in behaving and trying to...more
Ross Lockhart
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.
Mike
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...more
J
There's some gawdawful hipster with a soul patch on the cover of the edition I read. What this refugee from a Tom Waits concert audience has in common with the titular character--a fat, short, middle-aged, badass detective from the late 1920s--I do not actually know. Vintage Crime's art department has much for which to answer.

The contents of this collection, though, were pretty fabulous. I can't be certain, but I may like these short stories better than I did The Maltese Falcon. I find the Conti...more
Chaz
May 12, 2008 Chaz rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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...more
Mike
Sep 27, 2010 Mike rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
Matt
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...more
Andrew
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...more
Ben
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
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...more
Zachary Rawlins
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
Carmen
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
Sarah
An excellent collection of hardboiled short stories, which in the end, I think I find more enjoyable than the novels about the Continental Op. I suppose I enjoy him best in small doses.
Mister
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
Eva
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...more
Fabio Tassi
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
Michael
Jun 29, 2014 Michael rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
Harold
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.
D-day
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.
Cyndi
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.
Jz
Apr 11, 2011 Jz rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan C
Hammett draws on his background as a Pinkerton agent for his Continental Op stories. I think there was another book of his short stories put out, but I no longer have that one and cannot recall the title.

They are good stories.
Tim
After reading some of Hammett’s full-length books with great enjoyment, I picked up this book. It is a collection of short stories about a hardboiled detective. These stories are mysterious, sometimes seedy, and always entertaining.
John
Great action with a hero whose methods are occasionally shady but who resists the temptations of the dark side and gets the bad guy in the end. As with all Hammett, the dialog is particularly strong. A very good set of short stories.
Michel
A great travel companion for any trip where you aren't driving yourself anyway, let alone crazy. It is fat with noir pulpiness and should assume it's rightful place in every over-coat's pocket, backpack, or brief-case.
Jesse Hattabaugh
A great collection of short mysteries told in a matter of fact tone. My favorite thing about this book were the clinical descriptions of out-moded practices like sending telegrams, and 1920s San Francisco.
Takipsilim
Short stories written during the 1920s. More a pioneer than an outstanding artist, Hammett nonetheless penned memorable tales like "The Girl with the Silver Eyes".
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Pulp Fiction: The Continental Op 20 60 Mar 18, 2013 12:36PM  
Pulp Fiction: April 2012 - The Continental Op 35 57 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
More about Dashiell Hammett...
The Maltese Falcon The Thin Man Red Harvest The Glass Key The Dain Curse

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