9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 5 October 2011
Couldn't disagree more with the other reviewer. I am a huge fan of Chandler and Hammett - and to say that Chandler "exerts supreme control over his plots and is perfectly-honed" in comparison to Hammett is just wrong. The Big Sleep and Lady in the Lake have the most ridiculously over complicated, confusing storylines, but the point is with Chandler you don't care about the story, you read for the characters and the dialogue. With Hammett you get more atmosphere. Red Harvest and The Glass Key are brilliantly dark and raw, nasty novels. The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man are the quintessential, cool, stylish detective novels. It's only The Dain Curse which hits an awkward dud note, which feels like what it is; some cobbled together short stories to make one rather tenuous novel. These books are unmissable.
11 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on 21 February 2010
This volume of the complete novels of Dashiell Hammett is published by the Library of America. In the sleeve notes Hammett's work is considered as one of 'America's best and authoritative writing'. I finally got round to sample this supposedly great proponent of the detective novel after having been an ardent fan of Raymond Chandler's writing for many years. But I am rather disappointed with Hammett. While Chandler exerts supreme control over his plots and its perfectly-honed, minimalist sentences that carry a unique punch, Hammet's text at times appears crudely crafted and his plots are convoluted and confused. However, as Hammet's work precedes that of Chandler by nearly ten years, it also leaves the powerful impression of representing the perfect maquette for Chandler's subsequent efforts of condensing and compressing that original, primitive, rough-hewn effort. Maybe the historians of literature know more about this.