Jeff's Reviews > Complete Novels

Complete Novels by Dashiell Hammett
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's review
Oct 28, 07

bookshelves: mystery, action-adventure, currently-reading
Read in October, 2007

The father of American hard-boiled detective fiction, Hammett is definitely worth the read. A combination of intellectual suspense and hard-hitting action, his works continue to enthrall. “The Maltese Falcon” is a true classic that is even better than the film, as hard as that is to image. “Red Harvest” keeps on engaged by the non-stop action and cunning tactics of its hero, the perpetually unnamed Continental Op. “The Dain Curse” is one of the greatest mystery novels ever, with surprising plot dynamics and the only occasion I’ve seen the supernatural combined with hard-boiled fiction. “The Glass Key” is good, and definitely worth reading, but remains the least enthralling of the bunch. However, read “The Glass Key” and then watch “Miller’s Crossing”. There are many interesting similarities. I’m going to read “The Thin Man” this weekend. It should be good.

Be warned, however, that his works were written from the mid-1920s to the mid-1930s and attitudes toward race that were dominant in that era occasionally appear in his work. Not often enough to advocate foregoing reading him. They are fairly rare actually and I had read a number of his works before I noticed any racist attitudes. Also, when they arise they are not overt or proselytizing, but seem to me to be unquestioned assumptions about which he is generally heuristically unaware. Still, one needs to understand he is a product of his time and take that into account when reading him.
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