"If Dashiell Hammett ends up rubbing (or bending) elbows with Mark Twain, why, probably neither man will mind." (Chicago Sun Times, on Hammett: Complete Novels)
In scores of stories written for Black Mask and other pulp magazines in the 1920s and 1930s, Dashiell Hammett used the vernacular adventure tale to register the jarring textures and revved-up cadences of modern America. His stories opened up crime fiction to the realities of American streets and American speech. These texts, along with some revealing essays and an early version of his novel The Thin Man, are reprinted here for the first time without the cuts and revisions introduced by later editors.
Hammett's years of experience as a Pinkerton detective give even his most outlandishly plotted mysteries a gritty credibility. Mixing melodramatic panache and poker-faced comedy, his stories are hard-edged entertainment for an era of headlong change and extravagant violence, tracking the devious, nearly nihilistic exploits of con men and blackmailers, slumming socialites and deadpan assassins. As guide through this underworld he created the Continental Op, the nameless and deliberately unheroic detective separated from the brutality and corruption around him only by his professionalism.
Steven Marcus is the editor.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful: What's wrong with the Library of America?, September 10, 2002 Reviewer: Kris from Portland, OR United States First they claim to have all of Raymond Chandler's stories in one volume. They don't, four are missing, and just happen to be the ones most sought after by true fans. Not to mention the eight they admit to omitting. They're excuse? Considerations for length and theme, it's true that three of the missing four are not mysteries, and that is what makes them unique. But why did they leave out "The Pencil"? The length problem could have been solved by omitting the section of Chandler's letters, there are whole volumes dedicated to those. And they could have cut some of the essays that are also included in other volumes, and replaced them with other essays that are rotting away in issues of the Atlantic Monthly. And they could have omitted the "Double Indemnity script and repalced it with "The Blue Dahlia" which is out of print. That is how they messed up their "definative"' collection of Chandler and they seem to have made worse editing choices with their collection of Hammmett's stories. The way it stands now, if you want every story Hammett wrote you must buy this book. It includes five stories that appear to be collected here for the first time. But, then you'll have to buy "Nightmare Town" and the "Big Knockover". Why did LOA do it this way? Why not omit the four stories already available in "Nightmare Town" amd replace them with the three that are missing from "The Big Knockover"? That way if you bought "Nightmare Town" you'd have the twelve remaining stories and you're collection is complete. If they were strapped for space they could omit the 58 page typescript for "'The Thin Man".