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Worth a read for anyone interested in the hardboiled crime and noir genres.
on 14 September 2017
I love noir and hardboiled crime writing, especially Raymond Chandler who is one of the all time great writers, of any genre.
I'd not read much Dashiell Hammett, maybe nothing at all, though I've a sneaking feeling I read The Maltese Falcon a few decades ago. Either way, my expectations were high. Dashiell Hammett is, after all, the inventor of the hardboiled school of crime fiction.
A lead character called The Continental Op was a great start and a lot of what Hammett writes about is apparently drawn from his own experiences as an operative of the Pinkerton Detective Agency. I also gleaned that the labour dispute related at the start of the book is also based on real life events (at Butte's Anaconda Road Massacre).
It’s a quick and easy read but, for all its merits, it just ain't Raymond Chandler. Perhaps it's wrong to compare a good writer with a truly great writer but given that Chandler does something very similar but with more subtly and wit, I just can't help it. I should add that Dashiell Hammett is no slouch on the writing front just that he was surpassed.
That said, and on its own terms, it's an enjoyable, compelling and quick read, and clearly hugely influential given that it was written in 1929.
The Op may not be a classical hero, but that's exactly what he is, and his heroism stands in stark contrast to virtually every other character in the book - most of whom are lying, corrupt and self serving. He must be one of the earliest prototypes of the seemingly indestructible stranger blowing in to exact vengeance on a corrupt and sleazy town.
Well worth a read for anyone interested in the hardboiled crime and noir genres.