Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Red Harvest” as Want to Read:
Red Harvest
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Red Harvest

(The Continental Op #1)

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  22,910 ratings  ·  1,420 reviews

RED HARVEST is a lurid thriller...the most real and vivid picture of gang warfare we have ever had...there has never been a detective story like contains the most remarkable collection of detestable characters ever devised by the brain of a fiction is told in choice underworld is doubtful if even Ernest Hemingway has e
Mass Market Paperback, 5th Printing, 226 pages
Published September 1945 by Pocket Books (first published February 1st 1929)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Red Harvest, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Tomos Llywelyn Edwards Definitely recommend it; clever, intelligent writing, plenty of action, a unique, intriguing story - one of the best books that I've read.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  22,910 ratings  ·  1,420 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Red Harvest
Bill Kerwin
May 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I’ll give you three good reasons—from least to most—why you should read Red Harvest: 1) it made possible the fine Leone film A Fistful of Dollars, 2) it inspired the Kurosawa masterpiece Iojimbo which influenced A Fistful of Dollars, and 3) it is an old school hard boiled, hardcore novel, with a detective as tough as Spade, Marlowe and Hammer put together, written in hard-as-nails prose, and set in a small West Coast city, a city with a heart of stone.

The City is Personville, and people call it
Aug 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The review is updated yet again on January 20, 2020.

“I first heard Personville called Poisonville by a red-haired mucker named Hickey Dewey in the Big Ship in Butte. He also called his shirt a shoit. I didn't think anything of what he had done to the city's name. Later I heard men who could manage their r's give it the same pronunciation. I still didn't see anything in it but the meaningless sort of humor that used to make richardsnary the thieves' word for dictionary. A few years later I went t
James Thane
Mar 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
Originally published in 1929, Red Harvest is a classic crime novel that helped established the hard-boiled genre. This is most definitely not a polite, parlor mystery where most of the blood is spilled off of the page. As the title suggests, this book is filled with mayhem and the bodies are falling left and right.

The main protagonist is the Continental Op, who doesn't remotely resemble the genteel Hercule Poirot or any of the other fictional detectives who were so popular in the 1920s. The Op i
Ahmad Sharabiani
664. Red Harvest, Dashiell Hammett

The Continental Op is called to Personville by the newspaper publisher Donald Willsson, who is murdered before the Op has a chance to meet with him.

The Op begins to investigate Willsson's murder and meets with Willsson's father, Elihu Willsson, a local industrialist who has found his control of the city threatened by several competing gangs. Elihu had originally invited those gangs into Personville to help him impose and then enforce the end of a labor dispute.
Glenn Russell
Feb 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Published in 1929, Red Harvest is the first of five classic novels written by Dashiell Hammett, inventor of the "hard-boiled" school of fiction. Since there are dozens of reviews already posted here, I will take a different slant, citing how quotes from nineteenth century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche apply to the novel’s unnamed main character/narrator, a man simply known as "Continental Op" and the city where the novel is located, Personville aka Poisonville, a dingy mining city of 40
Question: How to induce a gushing, mind-blowing noirgasm?

Answer: Have your amoral, no-nonsense, no-name main character bust out with slick, cool-dripping phrases like: "I poured out a couple of hookers of gin [while] She went into the kitchen for another siphon and more ice.

Friends, if there’s a unit of measurement more loaded with juicy, quintessential noirness than “a hooker of gin,” please let me know because I spent my entire happy wad when I read that. No offense to fans of Raymond Chandle
An operative from the Continental Detective Agency is summoned to Personville (a/k/a Poisonville) by a crusading newspaper publisher, but the man is murdered before the Continental Op can meet with him. The Op quickly learns that Poisonville has a crime problem that would make Gotham City seem like Topeka by comparison. After getting a look at its seedy underbelly the Op browbeats the dead publisher’s wealthy father into paying him to clean up the town even though he’s a big part of the problem. ...more
Bobby Underwood
I've always been the dissenting opinion on this one. Yeah, it was influential, but since Hammett himself was copying John Carroll Daly's new hardboiled style, maybe we should give him a bit of the credit. Cynical and definitely hardboiled, Hammett’s Red Harvest is missing the one ingredient which might have made it work for me — Raymond Chandler. Compare this to Raymond Chandler’s first novel, The Big Sleep. Both novels have elements cannibalized from their respective pulp stories, both have bod ...more
Jan 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Pulp/hard boiled crime fans. Those who want to go to the party.
”Discovering pulp fiction now, right now, is a bit like finding a lost treasure. You are unearthing something that will entertain, enlighten, amuse, horrify, mangle, jangle, keep you riveted. Decades after they were written, these stories still manage to have an edge.”
--Harlan Coben

I'm in heaven.

Well, maybe not literally…but certainly in a literary sense!

I've discovered pulp fiction. I am excited. Deliriously so.

• secured a couple of telephone directory sized compendiums of hardboiled a
John Culuris
May 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top-shelf, favorites
★ ★ ★ ★ 1/2

“The reader knows a great deal. He has taste and wisdom, or he wouldn’t be reading.” -- John D. MacDonald.

I often think about the quote above and how much has changed since JDM wrote those words in the 1974. The wisdom part is still true. If nothing else, constant reading grows vocabularies. Today’s readers, however, have come of age in an environment that in some ways restricts the use of literary intelligence. An example of this can be found in the lack of respect often accorded the
Manuel Antão
Dec 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1981
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Ode on a Grecian Urn: "Red Harvest" by Dashiell Hammett

Original Review, 1981-03-05)

Perhaps my deep, identity creating, connections to Germany has made me more open to their critical ideas, and to the effect those ideas have had in the US for the last 50 years. I don't always agree with them but I enjoy them. And as a disclaimer I often have NO idea what they are talking about. And I'll just stick with my babies in the bath water cliché
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Oct 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
- What's the rumpus?
- Don Willson's gone to sit on the right hand of God, if God don't mind looking at bullet holes.
- Who shot him?
- Somebody with a gun.

Donald Willson may have been the last 'straight man' in the city of Personville, better known as 'Poisonville' - a midwestern industrial town overrun by criminal gangs during the Prohibition. Editor of the local paper, Don has called on The Continental Op (the unnamed hero of the novel, a private eye employed by the Continental Detect
David Schaafsma
"He who fights with monsters must take care lest he thereby become a monster.”—Nietzsche, quoted by the Continental Op.

Red Harvest (1929) is a novel by Dashiell Hammett. The story is narrated by The Continental Op, an “operative” for the Continental Detective Agency, much of which is drawn from Hammett’s experiences as an operative of the Pinkerton Detective Agency. The labor dispute in the novel was inspired by Butte's Anaconda Road Massacre.

“’Who shot him?’ I asked.

The grey man scratched the
Ɗẳɳ  2.☊
Red Harvest opens when an unnamed detective known only as The Continental Op is hired by a small-town newspaper publisher to investigate local corruption. The Op arrives in the ugly little mountain village, known locally as Poisonville—due to the extensive mining pollution or vast criminal element, take your pick—only to discover his client has been murdered before their meeting can occur. Rather than turn tail and run back to San Fran, our fearless detective decides to follow through with his i ...more
Mar 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“You're drunk, and I'm drunk, and I'm just exactly drunk enough to tell you anything you want to know. That's the kind of girl I am. If I like a person, I'll tell them anything they want to know. Just ask me. Go ahead, ask me.”

A quick and impressive read, especially for the time it was written. Hammett's Continental Op is obviously the basis for everything that would come in the hard boiled/noir genre and for that alone it deserves all the praise it gets. But it's not just the character and the
Aug 16, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
2.5 – 3 stars (I hope Dan and Kemper don’t throw me out of the noir club before I even get in!)

I feel as though I ought to have liked _Red Harvest_ more than I did. After all it was written by Dashiell Hammett, one of the fathers of noir fiction (perhaps more famous for The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man) and, like many of his books, became the source for numerous (often excellent) film adaptations. It has an interestingly conflicted protagonist and is chock full of killing, double crosses, dec
Dec 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
No, this book isn’t about farming in communist Russia.

The Continental Op travels to Personville, USA following an invite from the editor of the local newspaper, but upon the Op’s arrival, he finds out that his host had been gunned down in cold blood. Just another day in Poisonville. When Personville’s most powerful man enlists the help of the Op by floating a cool ten grand his way, the Op puts forth a plan to clean up the town once and for all.

The plot of Red Harvest although simple and straigh
K.D. Absolutely
Feb 05, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books; 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006 only)
My second in this genre called noir and I loved it. To like this genre one needs to develop an acquired taste because it is something that is very distinct and could be alienating if you just delve into it without opening your mind.

The setting is dark and the characters' prospect for happiness is almost nil. According to Wiki, Hammett himself worked as an investigator for the Pinkerton's Detective Agency and he was therefore able to bring strong sense of realism to his milieu and to the characte
May 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: To anyone who likes literary masterworks
My second time reading this and i saw things i missed the first time. Some nuances of the characters,dialouge,the authors world view. I dont re-read ever but i should re-read this every two years when i forgot little of the mystery,the work The OP is doing in Posionville.

This novel is a true literary Masterwork that makes you understand why Hammett has the reputation he has in mainstream American Literature let alone in crime,noir fiction.
It is a great,fun,bleak hardboiled PI story. Also Hammett
Oct 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, noir
"Who shot him?"
"Somebody with a gun."

But everybody has a gun in Dashiell Hammet's first novel (1929). This is one of the most action-packed books I've ever read, 200-some pages of black cars skidding around corners with gangsters hanging out of them spraying bullets everywhere.

Hammett's weirdly chaste, unnamed protagonist arrives in Personville bringing absolute bloody havoc with him, for reasons even he's not completely clear on. He's not much of a hero: "a fat, middle-aged, hard-boiled, pig-he
The fountainhead of "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly", "Unforgiven", and the "Untouchables". With spawns like that you can imagine the intensity and the death toll--I lost count after 17; I wasn't halfway through the story.

A lone gunslinger rides into town...
Cleaning up whether it wants it or not.

Little did I know just how right I was at the quarter mark. This is so noir. You read it and you can hear the voiceover in your mind as it flows. There's a lot of booze, bootlegging, bribes, drugs, a w
Oct 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone. Perfect For Readers New To The Hardboiled Genre. Best Hardboiled Novel Ever Writen
Recommended to Still by: Osmosis
Second time around if not the third.
Must be third time around.
Still as good and as exciting as it was the first time back in my late teens - early twenties.

It wasn't my first encounter with the Continental Op -my favorite Dashiell Hammett character.
That was when I first read "Dead Yellow Women" from The Big Knockover as teenager just out of high school and attending college.
Later acquired a vintage Dell map-back edition of some of the same stories titled Dead Yellow Women

It wasn't until I'd r
Larry Bassett
Dec 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Larry by: James Thane
Shelves: crime, mystery
I read a review of Red Harvest recently and decided I wanted to read this 1929 book by Dashiell Hammett, an author whose name is very familiar to me but whom I have not managed to read other than The Maltese Falcon a very long time ago. So I bought a used copy online and have actually decided to read it right away at the end of the year rather than putting it on a shelf to gather dust and get lost! In fact, this book is the 100th book of my successful 2013 GR reading challenge so a small celebra ...more
Anthony Vacca
May 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A perfect rejoinder for whenever you are next accosted by some bothersome elderly person prattling on about how things used to be so much nicer (e.g. books, movies, *chuckle* the world). Little more than ten years shy of being a hundred, this pulp classic is as volatile a read now as it was when it first spilled ink across the pages of Black Mask. As André Gide put it, "a remarkable achievement, the last word in atrocity, cynicism, and horror." Last word? Well, maybe not. But this rollicking pri ...more
Jun 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: genre-detective
In each fictional genre, (war, romance, western, mystery, etc) there are usually a few books which that genre's fans near-unanimously consider to be holy; sacred: icons, landmarks, milestones.

In any genre's canon there are sometimes only as few as 2-3 of the very most-revered relics--invoking the greatest and most unqualified renown among fans--or (though it happens rarely) even just one. This is the case when it comes to hard-boiled American pulp crime fiction from the 1930s; this is the case
I did not enjoy this book as much as I thought I would. I felt the plot was contrived at times - I mean, how many betrayals do we need in a story before it becomes commonplace? The characters felt cartoonish - the femme fatale was just too much of a cliche. It did not have the finesse of a Chandler's story, that's for sure. Just three stars.
Red Harvest was originally published starting in 1927 as a 4-part serial. Presumably because there was some rule about not printing over a certain number of murders in a single magazine.

This is classic hardboiled noir from the author that also gave us The Maltese Falcon. It's all cigar smoke, whiskey, wit, and death. This is a book where if I didn't tell you it was noir, you would still be hearing the voice of Humphrey Bogart as your inner voice by the second chapter. The plot is complicated, s
Jan 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I didn't think it was possible that Dashiell Hammett could ever top the the coolness of the Maltese Falcon but I think I like Red Harvest even more. The nameless Continental Op arrives in Personville, better known to the locals as Poisonville, and the body count starts rising and doesn't stop until the end. The Op is a classic noir character and is nowhere close to a good guy, However, he is a supreme badass and I loved reading about him. If you like noir fiction, this may be the tops.
Jun 04, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I keep vacillating from three to four stars on this. I recently finished The Maltese Falcon, which I loved, and quite a few people told me that if I loved Maltese Falcon I will love Red Harvest. I simply liked this one. Maltese Falcon was a tight mystery with a gritty but likable protagonist (Sam Spade) sparring with a few other well written character with some of the tightest dialogue this side of Shakespeare. Red Harvest had too many characters, too many jerky sub-plots, too many red herrings ...more
Jan 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
My first reread in a long time because this was my pick for a GR group read. I have read a lot more of the genre since my first runaround with Red Harvest, and it was surprising to recognize how much the framework laid down by this book has gone on to become genre mainstays - terse prose, convoluted plots, femme fatales and tough amoral protagonists.

This is hardboiled noir at its very inception. A nameless detective - The Continental Op, descends on the most corrupt town on Earth and has to inst
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Big Sleep (Philip Marlowe, #1)
  • Farewell, My Lovely (Philip Marlowe, #2)
  • The High Window (Philip Marlowe, #3)
  • The Long Goodbye (Philip Marlowe, #6)
  • The Lady in the Lake (Philip Marlowe, #4)
  • The Little Sister (Philip Marlowe, #5)
  • Playback (Philip Marlowe, #7)
  • The Postman Always Rings Twice
  • Trouble Is My Business (Philip Marlowe #0.5)
  • Double Indemnity
  • The Killer Inside Me
  • I, the Jury  (Mike Hammer,  #1)
  • Pop. 1280
  • The Name Is Archer
  • The Simple Art of Murder
  • Little Caesar
  • My Gun Is Quick (Mike Hammer #2)
  • In a Lonely Place
See similar books…
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

Other books in the series

The Continental Op (2 books)
  • The Dain Curse

Related Articles

Girls who save the world, sweeping dystopias, contemporary love stories, and high fantasy are all staples of the current young adult book landsca...
74 likes · 21 comments
“Who shot him? I asked.
The grey man scratched the back of his neck and said: Somebody with a gun.”
“You're drunk, and I'm drunk, and I'm just exactly drunk enough to tell you anything you want to know. That's the kind of girl I am. If I like a person, I'll tell them anything they want to know. Just ask me. Go ahead, ask me.” 74 likes
More quotes…