Matt's Reviews > The Continental Op

The Continental Op by Dashiell Hammett
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's review
Apr 13, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: crime
Read from March 23 to April 12, 2011

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 (but only "bad guys") and the out and out vigilante delivering a justice the law can't.

The character of the Op reminds me a lot of Richard Stark's Parker - the same total focus on the job, the guns, the violence and the lying are just tools to be employed as needed to get the job done.

Hammett's writing style is economical but evocative; there are few, if any, spare words but you never have a less than crystal clear mental picture of every scene.

The only criticism I can offer is that a few too many of the stories end in a page or so of dialogue where the Op and his, suddenly talkative, prisoner sum up all the details of motive and execution the reader may have missed...
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