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One of the greatest crime novels of the 20th century.
'His name remains one of the most important and recognisable in the crime fiction genre. Hammett set the standard for much of the work that would follow' Independent
Sam Spade is hired by the fragrant Miss Wonderley to track down her sister, who has eloped with a louse called Floyd Thursby. But Miss Wonderley is in fact the beautiful and treacherous Brigid O'Shaughnessy, and when Spade's partner Miles Archer is shot while on Thursby's trail, Spade finds himself both hunter and hunted: can he track down the jewel-encrusted bird, a treasure worth killing for, before the Fat Man finds him?
'He is master of the detective novel, yes, but also one hell of a writer' Boston Globe
Dashiell Hammett is the true inventor of modern detective fiction and the creator of the private eye, the isolated hero in a world where treachery is the norm.
THE CONTINENTAL OP was his great first contribution to the genre and these seven stories, which first appeared in the magazine Black Mask, are the best examples of Hammett's early writing, in which his formidable literary and moral imagination is already operating at full strength. THE CONTINENAL OP is the dispassionate fat man working for the Continental Detective Agency, modelled on the Pinkerton Agency, whose only interest is in doing his job in a world of violence, passion, desperate action and great excitement.
Vintage Hammett features episodes from Red Harvest, The Maltese Falcon, The Dain Curse, and The Thin Man; and stories featuring the Continental Op, including “The House in Turk Street,” “The Girl with the Silver Eyes," and "Flypaper.” It also includes the story "Nightshade" which has not been available in over fifty years.
Vintage Readers are a perfect introduction to some of the great modern writers, presented in attractive, affordable paperback editions.
'His name remains one of the most important and recognisable in the crime fiction genre. Hammett set the standard for much of the work that would follow' INDEPENDENT
Dashiell Hammett's Continental Op was the prototype for generations of tough-guy detectives. Short, squat and as stubborn as a mule, the Op's only enthusiasm was doing his job. In the stories in THE BIG KNOCKOVER, the job means solving the bank heist to end all bank heists, taking on a gang of freebooters, cleaning up a vice-ridden hell in the desert and dealing with assorted colourful grifters like the Dis-and-Dat Kid, Alphabet Shorty McCoy and Bluepoint Vance.
In the title story, a man on a bender enters a small town and ends up unraveling the dark mystery at its heart. A woman confronts the brutal truth about her husband in the chilling story "Ruffian's Wife." "His Brother's Keeper" is a half-wit boxer's eulogy to the brother who betrayed him. "The Second-Story Angel" recounts one of the most novel cons ever devised.
In seven stories, the tough and taciturn Continental Op takes on a motley collection of the deceitful, the duped, and the dead, and once again shows his uncanny ability to get at the truth. In three stories, Sam Spade confronts the darkness in the human soul while rolling his own cigarettes. And the first study for The Thin Man sends John Guild on a murder investigation in which almost every witness may be lying.
In Nightmare Town, Dashiell Hammett, America's poet laureate of the dispossessed, shows us a world where people confront a multitude of evils. Whether they are trying to right wrongs or just trying to survive, all of them are rendered with Hammett's signature gifts for sharp-edged characters and blunt dialogue.
Hammett said that his ambition was to elevate mystery fiction to the level of art. This collection of masterful stories clearly illustrates Hammett's success, and shows the remarkable range and variety of the fiction he produced.