on 19 December 1997
If you want to see Hammett playing around with the boundaries of his genre, read this book. It is great to see him give us the hard-boiled western, for example. One of the tales provides a glimpse at Hammett's life in his late 50's; its a rather weird autobiographical fragment. The rest are tightly packed knockouts.
on 30 July 1999
Irresistible stories, expertly selected & introduced by Lillian Hellman. More compelling even than the other Hammett short stories collection, "The Continental Op" - which features a more conventional foreword & introductory remarks. Stories here are of a great variety, also of a wide timespan; and one of the best, I think, is the one "straight" story in the volume, 'Tulip': this is less hard-boiled than fascinating (if left in a fragmented form). All in all, one of the 20th century classics - not just in terms of classic mysteries, but of world literature; it can certainly compete with Hammett's finest novels such as "The Glass Key" or the similarly offbeat (since humorous) "The Thin Man".
on 14 December 1995
Hammetts Continental Op loves his work, and his work
is manhunting. In this collection of short stories, he goes
up against Chinese gangsters, Balkan revolutionaries,
cowboys and more than a couple of spunky dames. This is
classic Hammett: sharp, detailed, and gripping. He never
misses a beat. Also included it "Tulip," a fascinating, but
slow semi-autobiographical piece.