#842: Red Harvest (1929) by Dashiell Hammett

Red Harvest

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In the early days of this blog, to indicate my tastes, I brazenly avowed that certain authors were unlikely ever to be reviewed here; bang in the middle of that list, fresh from disappointments with his short fiction, was Dashiell Hammett.  Even in the throes of castigation, however, I acknowledged the “dense and amazing” plotting of his debut novel Red Harvest (1929), which had a startling effect on this young man when finding my feet in the genre in the early 2000s.  And then Nick Fuller’s recent review of that book — linked below — did to its reputation what the Continental Op does to Personville herein, and my interest in revisiting it was well and truly piqued.

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In GAD We Trust – Episode 23: What’s in a Watson? [w’ Caroline Crampton]

The companion of the fictional detective — the “stupid friend” as Ronald Knox styled them — is something I have spent far too long thinking about, mainly because the protoype is always taken to be Sherlock Holmes’ chronicler Dr. John H. Watson. Joining me this week to discuss why that might not always be a good comparison to draw is Caroline Crampton of the superb Shedunnit podcast.

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In GAD We Trust – Episode 17: The Hardboiled Golden Age on Page and Screen [w’ Sergio @ Tipping My Fedora]

After watching detective fiction play out in the drawing rooms of ivory towers for too long, I’m heading into the mean streets to get some grease under my nails, a shiv waved in my face, and probably a cosh to the back of my head. Thankfully, Sergio, who oversaw a great deal of this stuff in books and on film at Tipping My Fedora has consented to accompany me and keep me as safe as he can.

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#727: The Dain Curse (1929) by Dashiell Hammett

Dain Curse

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Doubtless on account of my predilection for typically British novels of detection, I have somehow fostered the mistaken reputation of one who dislikes the Hardboiled school.   I mean, I named Jim Thompson one of the four most important male authors in crime fiction, have heaped praise on James M. Cain, Dashiell Hammett, both Ross and John D. MacDonald, and the Cool & Lam books of Erle Stanley Gardner, but still there lingers an air of distrust whenever I step away from the Venetian vase of the drawing room and into the mean streets. So let’s look to The Dain Curse (1929) to exemplify a lot of the good that the subgenre has to offer.

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#323: Reflections on Detection – ‘Why Do People Read Detective Stories?’ (1944) and ‘Who Cares Who Killed Roger Ackroyd?’ (1945) by Edmund Wilson [feat. Gladys Mitchell]

In October 1944 and January 1945, the American newspaper columnist, writer, and critic Edmund Wilson published two essays entitled, respectively, ‘Why Do People Read Detective Stories?’ and ‘Who Cares Who Killed Roger Ackroyd?’.  The second was in response to the exhortations from readers who, appalled by the first, sent him recommendations to improve his outlook…recommendations which, by all accounts, failed miserably.

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#22: The Nine Wrong Answers – Popular Authors Who Fail to Impress

Much like you – well, exactly like you, I’d imagine – there are authors I love and authors I don’t.  Almost as a counter-point to last week’s My Blog Name in Books, here is my list of nine ‘classic’ crime authors whose work I’m unlikely to ever touch again and – in some cases – whose continued popularity is, in all honesty, a complete mystery to me.  I cast no aspersions by this, it’s just interesting to throw some ideas around and get a sense of people’s tastes and preferences.

As ever, there are rules: they must be dead (I’m not one for trolling), I must have read at least four of their books (to give them a fair chance) and they must fall into my self-imposed 1920 to 1950 envelope.  Presented alphabetically by surname, too.

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