Friday, October 18, 2013

Red Harvest

I just finished reading Dashiell Hammett's 1929 short novel Red Harvest. It was pretty interesting, but one thing that stuck out as a major difference from more recent detective fiction is the sheer amount of action packed into very few pages. There is not a lot of character development or even solving of mysteries clue by clue. Instead there is one mystery solved quickly after another in quick succession much like an action thriller in words. Since the work was originally serialized in Black Mask in four parts this makes sense. But, I think I prefer the more deliberate and intellectual solving of mysteries that came to dominate later detective fiction. The copy of the novel I purchased had five novels by Hammett in a single book. So now I will start on the second novel in the book which is The Dain Curse. 


Unknown said...

Oof, The Dain Curse is probably his worst effort. Would try instead The Thin Man for its dry, rueful humor, or The Glass Key which is his best work & is densely, tightly written.

J. Otto Pohl said...


I purchased a used collected edition of his work of 15 Ghana that has Red Harvest, The Dain Curse (You are right it is not great), The Maltese Falcon, The Thin Man, and the The Glass Key in that order. I believe that is the order in which they were written.