2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Better than Spade,
This review is from: The Continental Op (Picador Books) (Paperback)
I am astonished at the ignorance of most people about thewriting of Dashiell Hammett. Few people, if asked, could tell you thenumber of novels he wrote featuring Sam Spade (Answer: 1, although there are three short stories) or who the "Thin Man" was (Nope, not William Powell - it was the concrete-cased corpse). Even fewer would look at you with anything less than a blank stare if you mentioned the Continental Op, the unnamed, smart, tough and slightly tragic hero of these stories.
The Op shares many qualities with the intrepid Spade, but is different in one respect - his ability to work as part of an agency and report to the "old man". This alone makes him 180-degrees different from the ronin Spade.
The stories found in this book are stunning pieces of literature. Although they are the foundation upon which the genre "hard-boiled" would be built, they are indeed literary masterpieces, without a wasted word. They are tough-guy poetry, without the flowery sentimentality of Raymond Chandler, who was to follow in Hammett's footsteps.
What;s it all about? A coded telegram about a missing daughter...some sheets of dark grey paper hidden in a copy of "The Count of Monte Cristo"...the FOR HIRE flag on a taxi that was up when it should have been down...a newspaper story that appeared in only ONE COPY of ONE ISSUE...a spitted dog barbecuing over a fire...a voice which spoke from an orange tree... These things and more.