Phillip Berrie's Reviews > Dashiell Hammett Collection

Dashiell Hammett Collection by Dashiell Hammett
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's review
May 25, 12

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bookshelves: detective
Read from April 10 to May 25, 2012

I have been so busy lately that it took becoming sick for me to finish this book. Grrrr. So much for my reaching my number of books goal this year.

This is a collection of short stories mainly involving Hammett's unnamed detective character who works for the Continental Detective agency. This is a cute gimmick and it was interesting to see how Hammett goes about revealing so little about his point-of-view character while describing the other characters in the stories so well.

Hammett's work was recommended to me as an example of the hard-bitten detective fiction genre which I might like to incorporate into my own Changeling Detective stories (excuse the plug). However, there is a huge distance between the society and technology of the 1920s and 30s and today's contemporary scene. For example, many of Hammett's stories have the private detective working hand-in-hand with the city's police detectives and quite often taking the lead in an investigation, something that I can't see happening these days.

What might be of more use is his representation of criminals. In a world which I thought was more black and white than today he assembled quite and interesting collection of crooks, swindlers and opportunists that were looking to make a fast buck with the least effort and danger. This I think is an important point. Most of the violence that occurs in this book follow on from some get-rich scheme that goes pear-shaped leaving the criminal desperately trying to cover their tracks by silencing potential witnesses or double-crossing associates. The criminals are not out to do violence for its own sake, it is purely a means to an end.

I was less than impressed with the quality of the production of this eBook. It was obviously OCRed from a hard copy original and contained many silly typos that a spell checker would have picked up easily. It was obvious to me that no one read the stories after they had been scanned.

An interesting look at the history of crime fiction and best recommended for those interested in such.

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Reading Progress

21.0% "Some of these short stories are about a continuing character who is never named. I've read three (or maybe it's just two... hard to tell for obvious reasons) where the only thing we find out about the point of view character is that he works for the 'Continental Detective Agency' and he's well known by the police department.

Could a writer get away with this today?"
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