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The Glass Key (Vintage Crime) Paperback – 1 Aug 1991


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Product details

  • Paperback: 214 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Books (1 Aug 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679722629
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679722625
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.4 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,943,880 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

Hammett¿s strangest and most personal work. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

B.1894, d.1961. After spells as newsboy, freight clerk, labourer, messenger, stevedore and advertising manager, Hammett became an operative of the Pinkerton Detective Agency. His experiences as a private detective laid the foundation for his writing career. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Green dice rolled across the green table, struck the rim together, and bounced back. Read the first page
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 21 Mar 1998
Format: Paperback
When you've finished reading this novel (and if you care anything about the American detective story, you will read this novel), think back. Can you recall even the slightest hint of emotion, or the smallest display of caring by one individual for another? I don't think so, and this is the essence of hard-boiled detective stories. Don't get me wrong. You know Ned Beaumont cares about those he is trying to help, and gets beat up for. He's much too tough to show it, though, and that's the key. That's why they call it tough-guy fiction. This story is straight-on, airtight, wonderfully written. In one eighteen-month period Hammett wrote The Maltese Falcon and The Glass Key. Amazing. We shall never see his like again. Highly recommended.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 April 1997
Format: Paperback
Dashiell Hammetts creative light burned bright but for a brief 5-10 year period. In "The Glass Key," his penultimate novel, Hammett melded the world of the "hard-boiled detective"--shady underground figures, powerful men and, of course, a beautiful woman--with a theme that recurs throughout his ouvre--of basic trust between kindred souls.

Often over-shadowed in the eyes of readers by the novels that preceeded and followed, "The Maltese Falcon" and "The Thin Man," "The Glass Key" is Hammett at the very top of his form. Writing as no one had before, or has since.
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By Brian R. Martin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 2 Feb 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dashiell Hammett's creative period was very short, effectively terminated in the 1940s by chronic ill health (TB), alcoholism, and political persecution because of his extreme outspoken left-wing views. But prior to this he produced some memorable work, and was a master of the `hard-boiled' detective story. He is best known for `The Maltese Falcon', following the successful film staring Humphrey Bogart, but `The Glass Key' is generally regarded as his finest work. The `hero', if he can be called that, is the cool Ned Beaumont, a hard-drinking fixer for a gangster, Paul Madvig, who controls a city via his political and police stooges. But Ned has a moral code of sorts, and when Paul looks like being betrayed at election time, and may even be indicted for a murder, he steps up, and at considerable personal danger (he is severely beaten several times) eventually forces the real killer to confess. To cap it all he even `wins' the daughter of a Senator, who Paul vainly hoped to marry. The story is more complex than these few sentences convey. There are many twists and turns and it has a real surprise ending. The writing is in a terse, laconic style that has often been imitated but never excelled. An excellent read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 43 reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Power, corruption, and lies 13 Jan 2005
By D. Cloyce Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Of all five of Hammett's novels, "The Glass Key" most resembles a "traditional" whodunit with its linear plot, subtle hints, red herrings, false leads, and disclosure of the murderer in the final chapter. It's his only novel with enough clues to allow readers to figure out who did it--although the identity of the killer will still surprise most readers (including this one, to be honest). What distinguishes it from a typical murder mystery, however, is Hammett's fastidious prose, scurrilous characters, noir ambience, and borderline misanthropy.

Ned Beaumont, a self-described "amateur detective" with an independent streak and a gambling habit, is the loyal underling to shadowy political boss Paul Madvig, whose major concern is to see his candidate, Taylor Henry, reelected to the Senate. When the Senator's son is murdered alongside a dimly lit street, Madvig is the chief suspect, the papers (controlled by the opposition) go on the attack, and Beaumont intervenes with an attempt to clear his boss's name. While not above resorting to ethically dubious behavior, Beaumont retains a vein of rectitude under his tough-guy exterior, and he's even willing to undergo the most brutal thrashings at the hands of the criminal opposition out of loyalty to his own superiors--as long as they themselves don't cross the line.

His fourth novel in three years (1929-1931), "The Glass Key" is bleaker and more cynical than its predecessors, and the mood spirals further downward as the story unfolds. (One can almost imagine Hammett's brooding temper darkening with each stiff drink.) While most of his fiction deals with the underworld and its corruption and squalidness, this work shows most effectively the seedy alliances among businessmen, political bosses, elected officials, law enforcement, media figures, and organized crime in Prohibition-era America.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Business,Politics & Murder Make Interesting Election Results 8 Jun 2004
By mirasreviews - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"The Glass Key" is probably Dashiell Hammett's best-constructed novel. Our detective this time is not a professional sleuth, but Ned Beaumont, a sharp, tough, unglamorous, right-hand man to Paul Madvig, a powerful corrupt-as-the-next-guy businessman with political ambitions. Paul intends to win an upcoming city election and marry a Senator's daughter. But only a few weeks before the election, Taylor Henry, the Senator's son and brother of Paul's intended, is found murdered in the street. The police are desperate to solve this high-profile case. The city's various political forces are inclined to use Taylor Henry's death to leverage the upcoming election. Information is power, and whoever knows the identity of the murderer may control the election. Paul Madvig's now-precarious influence appoints Ned Beaumont as special investigator for the District Attorney's Office, and the newly-credentialed Ned sets out to sort out the murder before it sorts out the power structure in this unnamed Depression-era city.
"The Glass Key" explores the interdependent cultures of politics, industry, and news media, which combine to thoroughly immerse the city in corruption. As much as I admire Hammett's themes and enjoy his stories, I've never considered the stories, themselves, to be plausible. I wouldn't have much trouble believing that the characters or events described in "The Glass Key" could actually have existed, though. This is the most grounded in realism of any of Hammett's novels, and it's the most tightly written. The novel is evenly paced and, like its protagonist Ned Beaumont, is spare, focused, and direct in its purpose. Despite the story's third-person narration that never reveals anyone's thoughts or emotions, the characters are well-drawn and never flat. Ironically, the narrative's objectivity seems, if anything, to intensify its brutality. By focusing its attention on the personal and professional machinations behind city politics, "The Glass Key" creates an insider's view of power in America, circa 1930. By keeping the identity of the murderer and the outcome of the power plays secret until the very end, Hammett keeps us interested. Although it lacks "The Maltese Falcon"'s exotic characters and more ambitious themes, "The Glass Key" is among Hammett's best works, and I believe it's his second-best novel.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
The inventor of the "hard-boiled detective" at his peak. 26 April 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Dashiell Hammetts creative light burned bright but for a brief 5-10 year period. In "The Glass Key," his penultimate novel, Hammett melded the world of the "hard-boiled detective"--shady underground figures, powerful men and, of course, a beautiful woman--with a theme that recurs throughout his ouvre--of basic trust between kindred souls.

Often over-shadowed in the eyes of readers by the novels that preceeded and followed, "The Maltese Falcon" and "The Thin Man," "The Glass Key" is Hammett at the very top of his form. Writing as no one had before, or has since
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
The master at the peak of his powers 21 Mar 1998
By burglar - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
When you've finished reading this novel (and if you care anything about the American detective story, you will read this novel), think back. Can you recall even the slightest hint of emotion, or the smallest display of caring by one individual for another? I don't think so, and this is the essence of hard-boiled detective stories. Don't get me wrong. You know Ned Beaumont cares about those he is trying to help, and gets beat up for. He's much too tough to show it, though, and that's the key. That's why they call it tough-guy fiction. This story is straight-on, airtight, wonderfully written. In one eighteen-month period Hammett wrote The Maltese Falcon and The Glass Key. Amazing. We shall never see his like again. Highly recommended.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Outstanding Piece about Politics, Corruption and Murder 24 Nov 2002
By Stuart W. Mirsky - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I was bowled over by this one. Oddly laconic with some rather awkward turns of phrase (he did it "difficultly"?!!), the writing, nevertheless, is nearly airtight and so sharply laid down that it carries and sets the mood beautifully in this strange tale of a political boss and his gambler buddy who are bent on winning their particular games of life. Paul Madvig, the boss, wants to win the upcoming elections and ensure continuation of his candidates in office while Ned Beaumont, the lone-wolf gambler, wants to get back on a winning streak, collect on a bad debt and protect his apparently dense friend Madvig who has stumbled into a situation. Madvig is in love with a senator's daughter and keen to win her hand and so has allowed his usual good judgement to become clouded. In shifting his political support to the senator, he has lost touch with his own less-than-respectable base, allowing a local gangster to muscle in on his territory. Intent on pushing the gangster back, he makes a dumb play and is soon sucked into a problem surrounding the unsolved murder of the senator's son. Who did it and why are the questions that lie at the core of Madvig's problems and only Beaumont is clever enough, and cares enough, to get to the bottom of it. Along the way Beaumont takes a bloody beating, participates in a murder and loses what he cares most for in all the world. Although the tale takes a while to get revved up and some of the transitions are so abrupt as to be jarring, this was not only a great "detective" story but one with real resonance that goes well beyond the genre in which it has been cast. I recently read Chandler's The Big Sleep and thought very highly of it, giving it five amazon stars. Well, this one's even better.

SWM
author of The King of Vinland's Saga
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