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Red Harvest (The Continental Op #1)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  18,378 Ratings  ·  1,051 Reviews
When the last honest citizen of Poisonville was murdered, the Continental Op stayed on to punish the guilty--even if that meant taking on an entire town. Red Harvest is more than a superb crime novel: it is a classic exploration of corruption and violence in the American grain.

From the Trade Paperback edition.
ebook, 224 pages
Published December 29th 2010 by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (first published 1929)
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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.
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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
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
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
Aug 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The review is updated on May 9, 2016.

A group read with a bunch of Pantaloonless Buddies.

Welcome to Poisonville I mean Personville, population 40,000. The local policemen are very friendly and truly enjoy doing their job:
The first policeman I saw needed a shave. The second had a couple of buttons off his shabby uniform. The third stood in the center of the city’s main intersection — Broadway and Union Street — directed traffic, with a cigar in one corner of his mouth. After that I stopped checki
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
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 an
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
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
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Red Harvest opens when an unnamed detective known only as, “The Continental Op” is called in by small town newspaper publisher to investigate local corruption. The Op arrives in the ugly little mountain town, 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 turning tail back to San Fran, our fearless detective decides to follow through wi
“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
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
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
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: noir, 2016
"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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
I'd like to start by saying that is the first of the classic hard-boiled detective novels I've read, so I don't have much of a touchstone for if this is a good example, or a good starting place, or what. The genre appeals to me, but without anything to compare, it's hard for me to know how this measures up to other books of a similar nature.

Red Harvest is the tale of Personville, known to the locals as Poisonville, and "The Continental Op" - as he's known in the Hammett world, he never gives a n
Sharon Barrow Wilfong
If all of Hammett's characters in every novel has a sameness to them, then it is in the context of Theme and Variations.

The tough dame is the same but her name is different as are her words and the dark adventure she participates in. Her name in Red Harvest is Dinah Brand. She is an able seductress who knows how to get money out of just about everyone. The men know it and love her irresistibly anyway. She may be alluring, but she's also big and tough and not above slapping men around.

The hard bo
Camille Stein
Sep 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'—Don Willsson ha ido a sentarse a la derecha de Dios, a menos que a Dios le preocupen los agujeros de bala.
—¿Quién le ha matado? — pregunté.
El hombre gris se rascó la cabeza y dijo:
—Alguien con una pistola.'

'Cosecha Roja' es el esqueleto desnudo de una novela: escueto, limpio, nítido, sin abalorios ni florituras. Un ejercicio de sobriedad, efectismo, sarcasmo y mala leche, salpicado de diálogos y episodios memorables, con una trama cinematográfica endiabladamente enrevesada, esperpéntica, de
Oct 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, crime
I still don't have the least idea what's going in Dashiell Hammett's books, but I'm definitely along for the ride. I don't know what it is about these noir detectives and their poor damaged livers, but I always get hooked (and start wondering whether I have any alcohol stronger than cider around, just to get into the spirit of it). I tried figuring out The Thin Man, earlier, but in Red Harvest I just sat back and went along with the ride -- Hammett/the narrator just don't give you enough informa ...more
Sep 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I often get asked why, as someone who appears to be politically switched on, I try and avoid the news media as much as possible. Well, the thing is, the truth of the world is too much for me these days. I can’t take it. Call it cowardice if you like, but I hate feeling angry or upset all the time. I’m not a masochist. A while ago I learnt that the UK government has agreed to sell arms to countries that have been blacklisted for human rights violations, countries that - as in the case of Libya, f ...more
May 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
This is one of those books I love beyond a number of other “better” works of art, so don’t expect a balanced and overly critical review. Not that the book isn't fantastic. [SPOILERS AHEAD, SPOILERS AHEAD:]

My very first exposure to Hammett was the novella, Woman in the Dark, published separately as a slender volume which I read in college. I knew very little about Hammett save he was supposed to be the man who inspired Chandler and I loved Chandler as much back then as I do today. The edition I r
Ian Tregillis
Wow. I know this is noir, so there are certain expectations. But even reading the book with that filter in place, the Continental Op is really sort of a dick.

This is competently written, in my humble opinion. Although, as more eloquent folks here on Goodreads have said before me, the difference between Hammett's prose and Chandler's is the difference between trying to describe everything and using one perfect telling detail. Hammett has a weird obsession with describing people's faces, and in p
Mohammad Ali

نمره ی واقعی: دو و نیم

برای منی که از چندلر سه تا کتابو خوندم فضا کاملا یادآور فضای چندلره و نشون می ده چندلر تو سنت همت قلم زده اما به نظرم این اثر به پای داستانایی که از چندلر خوندم - یعنی بانوی دریاچه، پنجره ی مرتفع و خداحافظی طولانی - نمی رسه از چند جهت: 1) جایگاه کاراگاه در محیط، اغراق شده است - همه باهاش عموما خوبن و بهش اطلاعات می دن؛ برخلاف مارلوی چندلر که نسبتاش با پلیس و خلافکارا و ... پخته تر و واقعی تره؛ 2) کارگاه همت از نظر احساسی انسان نیست - وقتی کاراش باعث قتل کسی می شه یا جنازه ا
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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 about Dashiell Hammett...

Other Books in the Series

The Continental Op (6 books)
  • The Dain Curse
  • The Big Knockover: Selected Stories and Short Novels
  • The Continental Op
  • The Return of the Continental Op
  • Nightmare Town
“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.” 73 likes
“Who shot him? I asked.
The grey man scratched the back of his neck and said: Somebody with a gun.”
More quotes…