Friday, January 4, 2013

The Golden Age of Detective Fiction

Red Harvest

Dashiell Hammett

In The Golden Age of Detective Fiction (1920’s-1930’s) the field was crowded by British authors. But one American writer, Dashiell Hammett, emerged with a hard boiled American style in his first novel, Red Harvest (1929). The story is narrated by the Continental Op, a frequent character in Hammett's fiction. Hammett based the story on his own experiences in Butte, Montana as an operative of the Pinkerton Detective Agency (fictionalized as the Continental Detective Agency). The labor dispute in the novel was inspired by the 1920 Butte Anaconda Road Massacre.

Time included Red Harvest in its 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005. Nobel Prize-winning French author André Gide called the book "a remarkable achievement, the last word in atrocity, cynicism, and horror."

Despite his involment with the Communist Party and his controversal personal life, Hammett’s novels had a significant impact on the detective genre and on films of that period. Hammett is now widely regarded as one of the finest mystery writers of all time and was called, in his obituary in The New York Times, "the dean of the hard-boiled school of detective fiction.”

Novels by Dashiell Hammett:

 Red Harvest (February 1, 1929)
The Dain Curse (July 19, 1929)
The Maltese Falcon (February 14, 1930)•
The Glass Key (April 24, 1931)
The Thin Man (January 8, 1934)

Dashiell Hammett (May 27, 1894 –January 10, 1961)

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