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Red Harvest (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) [Paperback]

Dashiell Hammett
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Sep 1996 Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
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.


Product details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Books; 1st Vintage Crime/Black Lizard Ed edition (1 Sep 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679722610
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679722618
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.1 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,410,720 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'This story of senseless killing is made fascinating by its unrelenting paceand the sheer brilliance of the writing. Classic crime writing.'GOOD BOOK GUI --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

'An acknowledged literary landmark' Robert Graves --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hardboiled as a 90-minute egg 16 May 2009
By Melmoth
Format:Paperback
Dashiell Hammett is the granddaddy of hardboiled detective fiction, of smart-talking 'tecs and dangerous dames, of stone-cold shootouts and dangerous plot-swerves. He's the man who gave the world the witty, shabbily-noble Thin Man, the cynical Sam Spade and, in this, his first novel, the tough, vengeful, amoral Continental Op.

Red Harvest is the tale of the Continental Op's trip to the town of Personville, a place universally referred to as Poisonville and filled with enough double-dealing and corruption to make the wire's Baltimore look like Rock Candy Mountain. The Op has been hired by local newspaperman, Donald Willson, son of the town's big industrialist and effective overlord, Elihu Willson, but arrives in town to find his client dead. Soon he's drawn into the ongoing conflict between the town's rival gangs (and its no-less crooked cops) and into long sessions of bartering and drinking with money-loving good-time girl and knowledge-broker Dinah Brand. Shot at one too many times, the Op resolves to clean up the town ... by any means at his disposal.

Red Harvest is a thrill-a-minute, hardboiled tale that rattles along like a mobster's 1920s Ford engaged in a drive-by shooting, but it too often betrays both its pulp origins and the fact it was Hammett's first novel. The tale is episodic, with the Op working his way steadily through the town's mobs, and relies heavily on Dinah Brand's almost-oracular knowledge of Poisonville's double-dealings. The Op is none-too likeable, hardboiled as a 90-minute egg and out to clean-up the town for reasons which are none too clear, even to himself. The writing sometimes lacks the economy and directness to be found in The Maltese Falcon or The Thin Man. Yet, all that sad, there is a great tale in here (good enough to inspire Kurosawa's Yojimbo) and one well worth the read.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The field of doom bears death as its harvest 9 Jan 2006
By Leonard Fleisig TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Aeschylus. The harvest of death is both plentiful and bloody in Dashiell Hammett's marvelous thriller "Red Harvest".
Dashiell Hammett, a former Pinkerton detective, pretty much invented the hard-boiled (U.S.) detective genre. The influence of Hammett's short stories and novels, "Red Harvest", "The Dain Curse", "The Glass Key", "The Thin Man" and "The Maltese Falcon" can be seen in much of the detective fiction writing that followed, including among others Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, Jim Thompson, Ross Macdonald, James Ellroy, Robert Parker, James Lee Burke, and Michael Connelly. The plot of "Red Harvest", Hammett's first novel, also found its way into movies such as Akira Kurosawa's "Yojimbo", Sergio Leone's "For a Fistful of Dollars", and the Coen brother's "Miller's Crossing".
"Red Harvest" begins with the arrival of the Continental Op, Hammett's trademark "man with no name" in the town of Personville. The client he has been summoned to see is found murdered before the Op can meet him. In short order the Op finds that Personville's nickname, "Poisonville" is well-earned. It is a town filled with small town greed and big time corruption. The Ops arrival coincides with the onset of a turf war for control of the city between rival gangsters. The Op pays a call on the dead man's father, Elihu Willsson. The Op soon determines that the town's descent into a state approaching a low level of hell began when Willsson imported some mobsters to break up a strike. Their stay turned out to be far from a temporary one.
For reasons of his own, perhaps just to be stubborn or perhaps as a matter of some principle or warrior code, the Op decides to stay and clean up the town.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This aint no talk-fest 4 July 2010
By Officer Dibble VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Hard-boiled debut from Hammett. Set in the lawless town of 'Poisonville' our visiting out of town 'Op' discovers his client is dead before he ever meets him. Since the ex-client was the son of the town's fading business grandee, the Op takes on a dual mission both to catch the killer and to clean up the town; 'to open up Personville from its adams apple to its ankles'.

To complete his mission we have action, surliness, colossal alcohol consumption, corruption and tons of violence. The Op actually lists the 16 people killed so far and we're still only half way through the book. Even the love interest is a lush who gobs on the floor and has a permanent ladder in her stocking.

I had a real problem with the slang to the point that some footnotes would not have gone amiss. There is also a bewildering flurry of a cast who are little more than names rather than characters. Hammett's prose and dialogue is not as slick as his later masterpiece.

A remarkable contrast to the Golden Age crime writing being produced contemporaneously in the UK. Red raw, both politically and stylistically.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blood-red noir 29 Sep 2011
By reader 451 TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Red Harvest is acclaimed as one of Dashiell Hammett's best even though the work did not, like The Maltese Falcon, also become a movie classic. Brutal and cynical in conception, it pits a San Francisco detective against a corrupt Midwestern town nicknamed poisonville. The hero, after his client dies on the very evening of his arrival, becomes embroiled in a triangular fight between police, gangsters, and their common, industrialist paymaster. Shifting allegiances, gunfights, and repeated murders pepper the breathtaking contest that ensues. And the plot would not be complete without the involvement of the femme fatale Dinah Brand, the protagonist's beguiling but faithless information supplier.

Red Harvest is breathlessly-paced and highly readable. Still, I came to Hammett after having exhausted Raymond Chandler, and I did not find one quite on the same level as the other. This is a different kind of noir: rawer, punchier, less polished. The Continental Op, the anonymous hero, does not match the self-deprecating Philip Marlowe in complexity. Sultry L.A. has been lost in favour of a more rough-and-tumble setting. And the style of writing reflects this, stripped of Chandler's quirky yet apposite metaphors, of his ironic asides and wry character sketches. I will no-doubt be trying out more Hammett. As this did not match my extremely high expectations, however, I can only give it four stars.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, dark, brutal literature about corruption, for all time
"Hardboiled" detective fiction in its more recent guises doesn't do much for me: I find James Ellroy's world grotesquely gory, for example. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Louise the book worm
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent purchase
The book came in good condition and was posted really fast - just what I wanted as I was in a rush to get it before I studied it in class... Read more
Published on 18 Feb 2011 by Evie
3.0 out of 5 stars Not his best work
Red Harvest took a while to get going, so it was a struggle to begin with. I almost stopped reading it, but in the end I perserved and was glad I did. Read more
Published on 5 Oct 2010 by Snowman
5.0 out of 5 stars Forget what you think you know.
Dashiell Hammett wrote the Maltese Falcon- everyone knows that. What they might not know is that he also wrote other, better books. Red Harvest is my personal favourite. Read more
Published on 2 Feb 2004 by "darksprout"
5.0 out of 5 stars The Continental Op Cleans Up
The story is told by an agent from the Continental Detective Agency. He has been called to the town of Personville or, as he explains, is more aptly named, Poisonville. Read more
Published on 22 Jan 2004 by Untouchable
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best
I like to consider Dashiell Hammett part of the Lost Generation. True, he wasn't a member of the crew including Fitzgerald, Dos Passos, and Hemingway that concentrated in France... Read more
Published on 10 Aug 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars A noir masterpiece
All those writers that flood the market these days, who cannot write a book of less than 500 pages and who think a "violent" story means also "gross and... Read more
Published on 30 May 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Clearly Hammett's Best
Of all the books written by the chronological trio of Hammett, Chandler, and MacDonald, only Red Harvest seems as honest and truthful now as I am sure it did in 1939. Read more
Published on 29 May 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Yojimbo! After the Falcon, my favorite Hammett
This book is the source for the movie Yojimbo and its American remakes. I did not like it over much the first time I read it, but when I reread all of Hammett I found I liked it... Read more
Published on 26 Mar 1999
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