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Crime Stories And Other Writings [Hardcover]

Dashiell Hammett , Steven Marcus
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 13 2001 Library of America (Book 125)
"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.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

The first great author in the hard-boiled detective genre, Hammett remains one of the most entertaining, as demonstrated by this largest single gathering ever of his short fiction. This collection's main distinction is that editor Steven Marcus uses the original story texts from their appearance in Black Mask magazine, recovering occasional pieces of lost wording, chapter breaks and other niceties. However, because Hammett is such a standard figure, most of these stories will be familiar to mystery fans from readily available collections. Marcus repeats everything except "Tulip" and "Corkscrew" from The Big Knockover (1966), edited by Lillian Hellman, and every story from The Continental Op (1974), which he edited. The recent Nightmare Town (2001) scooped the original Nick and Nora-less Thin Man fragment out from under him, plus "Zigzags of Treachery," "Two Sharp Knives" and others that would have made this book a highly desirable purchase. Only "Arson Plus," "Slippery Fingers" and "Creeping Siamese" are unique to this selection. Unless you make a line-by-line comparison, you won't notice great differences between these texts and those in the other books (still, the Black Mask wording is the most satisfying). One senses a missed opportunity for the major collection Hammett fandom has longed for: the complete Continental Op short stories, in order, original texts, under one set of covers that would be irresistible. Nonetheless, for the non-specialist, this volume stands as the best compendium yet of this classic crime author's shorter fiction.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Hammett is hot: besides this collection, a new book of his letters is now available, and a scholarly biography is forthcoming. This anthology binds 24 of his top stories in their original form sans editorial cuts plus an early take on The Thin Man and some other goodies. This is a great companion to the publisher's 1999 release of Hammett's Complete Novels and is essential for all libraries.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What's wrong with the Library of America? Sept. 10 2002
Format:Hardcover
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".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Collected Pulp Fiction Aug. 15 2002
Format:Hardcover
I debated whether this should be 3 stars or 4, and decided on 4 because of the creative plots and characters. Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961) dropped out of school at the age of 15, working at a variety of jobs before joining the Pinkerton Dectective Agency at the age of 21, working there before and after his service in the US Army during World War I. He came down with TB in the Army, and continuing illnesses made it difficult for him to work, so he became a writer. He is best known for the "Maltese Falcon" and other novels. He died penniless, largely due to judgements by the IRS for unpaid income taxes.
It is apparent from some of the other reviews that reviewers are unfamiliar with the process of publishing a collection. There are copyrights involved, and it is necessary to obtain permission from the copyright holders, often a different publisher (which may or may not be forthcoming). There are also fees payable to copyright holders, and demands sometimes make it impractical to include material (I am speaking from personal experience).
This collection contains 24 shorter stories originally published between 1923 and 1934, mainly in "Black Mask," with one each from "Argosy," "Mystery Stories," "Liberty," and "Colliers." The 20 stories from "Black Mask" feature the Continental Op, a detective from the Continental Detective Agency who is described as fat but never identified by name - call him "the Fat Man" for purposes of reference. The stories are in narrative form, as told by the main character. There is also an early typescript of "The Thin Man," various notes by the author, and biographical material on his life.
Rather than being literary masterpieces, these stories were written as entertainment for the masses.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A muffed opportunity Oct. 16 2001
Format:Hardcover
The Library of America did an excellent job with its Raymond Chandler volumes, which lacked only the "cannibalized" stories that Chandler himself asked not to be reprinted, but I can't say the same for its new (and final) volume of Dashiell Hammett.
Of the three Hammett short story collections on my shelves, this volume replaces one: THE CONTINENTAL OP, which happened to be edited by Steven Marcus, the editor of the Library of America volume. It includes only 5 of the 20 selections in the recent NIGHTMARE TOWN repackaging; from THE BIG KNOCKOVER it leaves out "The Gatewood Caper," "Corkscrew" (the Continental Op goes cowboy!), and, most unforgivably, "Tulip," an autobiographical meditation on storytelling which is the only sizable chunk of Hammett's postwar writing ever to surface. It does include "Woman in the Dark," currently in print as a slim single volume, dropping its subtitle ("A Novel of Dangerous Romance"); there may be good textual reasons for that decision, but they aren't described in this edition's notes.
Nice to get this work on acid-free paper, but the Library of America is intended to produce authoritative editions. It's unfortunate if predictable that this goal is forgotten when the series takes on the work which needs such attention most: that which hasn't already received the scholarly text treatment.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An undeniable "must" for any mystery buff! Nov. 10 2001
Format:Hardcover
Dashiell Hammett was the celebrated author and experienced detective who has been acclaimed as the father of the American hardboiled crime novel. This anthology of his work proves him to be a master of short stories as well. His tales, originally written for pulp magazines such as Black Mask in the 1920's and 1930's, drew upon the realities of American streets and American speech to create adventures felt and sounded truly real. This comprehensive collection from the original texts as they appeared in the pulps is free of the cuts and revisions imposed by later editors. In addition to 24 stories, Dashiell Hammett: Crime Stories And Other Writings also contains essays and an early version of Hammett's novel "The Thin Man." Dashiell Hammett: Crime Stories And Other Writings is an undeniable "must" for any mystery buff!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Large Collection of Hammett Stories in One Enduring Volume. Aug. 16 2004
By mirasreviews - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
"Crime Stories and Other Writings" contains 24 short stories and 3 additional selections, arranged chronologically, which Dashiell Hammett wrote between 1923 and 1934. The stories all first appeared in pulp fiction magazines and span all but one year of the master of detective fiction's career. "Crime Stories" offers three stories which cannot be found in any other volume currently in print: "Arson Plus" and "Slippery Finger", which were first published in "Black Mask" magazine under the pseudonym Peter Collinson, and "Creeping Siamese". These stories all feature the Continental Op detective, an always nameless, stubbornly practical character whom Hammett based on a fellow detective from his days at Pinkerton Detective Agency, Jimmy Wright, and on himself. Nineteen of this book's stories feature the Continental Op, making it the largest collection of Op stories available. Among the best of these are "Zig Zags of Treachery", "The House on Turk Street", "The Whosis Kid", and "The Big Knockover". "The Girl with the Silver Eyes" is a follow-up to "The House on Turk Street", so be sure to read "Turk Street" first. "The Big Knockover" and "$106,000 Blood Money" were originally a two-parter, but were published as a single novella in 1943. As their styles differ somewhat, the stories are more successful when separated, as they are here. The story called "Women, Politics and Murder" in this volume has been called "Death on Pine Street" in other volumes; they're the same story. It's interesting to note that "Fly Paper" was inspired by two real cases of murder that employed the same peculiar method. Among the five stories that do not feature the Continental Op is the novella "Woman in the Dark". It's mediocre, but has often been published as a stand-alone volume.

The three "Other Writings" to which the book's title refers are: "The Thin Man: An Early Typescript", "From the Memoirs of a Private Detective", and "Suggestions to Detective Story Writers". The early version of "The Thin Man" was written in 1930, four years before the final product was to be published and bears only the most superficial resemblance to the now-famous sleuthing of Nick and Nora Charles. It's a good story that introduces a new detective, John Guild of the Associated Detective Bureau. That it was never finished is regrettable. "From the Memoirs of a Private Detective" is 29 short anecdotes and words of wisdom gained from Hammett's experience as a real detective, first published in "The Smart Set" in 1923. Some of these are very funny. In "Suggestions to Detective Story Writers", Hammett, frustrated by the abundant inaccuracies in detective fiction written by non-detectives, sets the record straight on 24 common errors. This was first published in "The New York Post" in 1930 and is interesting, if out of date at this point. Editor Stephen Marcus has included a Chronology of the important events in Dashiell Hammett's life in the back of the book, as well as explanations of potentially cryptic slang terms and period references in "Notes", also found in the back.

With 24 short stories and 3 additional pieces of writing, "Crime Stories and Other Writings" is the most comprehensive single volume of Dashiell Hammett's short fiction available. Hats off to the Library of America for publishing 3 stories that are not currently found in any other volume. Unfortunately, you will still have to buy all four collections of Hammett's short stories to get all available stories: this one plus "Nightmare Town" from Knopf and "The Continental Op" and "The Big Knockover" from Vintage Crime. If you don't care to have every story, but would like a sizable sampling that includes some of Hammett's best, "Crime Stories and Other Writings" is an excellent choice. It contains the largest number of stories, presented in an attractive compact hardback volume and printed on thin acid-free paper, making it far more durable than other collections. This is a nice volume for both the casually curious and the addicted Dashiell Hammett fan.
52 of 60 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A muffed opportunity Oct. 16 2001
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The Library of America did an excellent job with its Raymond Chandler volumes, which lacked only the "cannibalized" stories that Chandler himself asked not to be reprinted, but I can't say the same for its new (and final) volume of Dashiell Hammett.
Of the three Hammett short story collections on my shelves, this volume replaces one: THE CONTINENTAL OP, which happened to be edited by Steven Marcus, the editor of the Library of America volume. It includes only 5 of the 20 selections in the recent NIGHTMARE TOWN repackaging; from THE BIG KNOCKOVER it leaves out "The Gatewood Caper," "Corkscrew" (the Continental Op goes cowboy!), and, most unforgivably, "Tulip," an autobiographical meditation on storytelling which is the only sizable chunk of Hammett's postwar writing ever to surface. It does include "Woman in the Dark," currently in print as a slim single volume, dropping its subtitle ("A Novel of Dangerous Romance"); there may be good textual reasons for that decision, but they aren't described in this edition's notes.
Nice to get this work on acid-free paper, but the Library of America is intended to produce authoritative editions. It's unfortunate if predictable that this goal is forgotten when the series takes on the work which needs such attention most: that which hasn't already received the scholarly text treatment.
33 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What's wrong with the Library of America? Sept. 10 2002
By Kristopher Haines - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
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".
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A flawed human being, but gifted writer Oct. 20 2013
By Gabriel Valjan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I purchased this volume to have Dash in one volume. He influenced Hemingway. Not the other way around. So said Gertrude Stein and I'm not inclined to argue with the lady. I've also read Richard Layman's Shadow Man and DH was both self-destructive and idealistic. The Hellman introductory essay in The Big Knockover is also worth reading. I do find it sad that Dash felt that he would not be remembered, not considered a "real writer" because he chose to write crime fiction, as opposed to high-brow literary fiction.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two Dozen Classic Detective Stories June 14 2010
By Acute Observer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Dashiell Hammett, Crime Stories & Other Writings

Detective Stories were created in the late 19th century ("Sherlock Holmes"). Hammett's experience as a private detective taught him about life that is rarely in the newspapers. His stories do not take place in a country mansion among polite society where murders are rare. There are twenty-four "Crime Stories" in this volume. Seven each came from "The Continental Op" and "The Big Knockover", and six from "Nightmare Town". The "Other Writings" include the first draft of "The Thin Man", "From the Memoirs of a Private Detective", and "Suggestions to Detective Story Writers". Are they still operative? Popular taste for `detective' novels waned in the 1960s. The Secret Service was created during the Civil War to catch Confederate Spies and saboteurs, and later used for counter-intelligence until the 1930s when this task was turned over to the FBI. The term "secret service" defines counter-intelligence throughout the world. The "Chronology" lists the important events in Hammett's life from 1888 to 1961.

"Arson Plus" has an investigator looking into a burned-down house to check for arson. The people here are new to the area. Their backtrail leads to a solution to the crime.
"Slippery Fingers" is about the murder of a rich man. Bloody fingerprints are found. Can one suspect be cleared if his prints do not match?
"Crooked Souls" tells about the kidnapping of a rich man's daughter. Can this crime be solved by investigating her friends? "A chip off the old block."
"The Tenth Clew" is about a client who is found murdered. The tenth clue is to question the other nine.

"Zigzag of Treachery" is about a mysterious suicide where the wife is arrested. A hired detective discovers the truth.
"The House on Turk Street" is visited by the Operative in search of a man. He finds an old couple and a surprise.
"The Girl with the Silver Eyes" is about the search for a missing woman, when her boyfriend also disappears. They are both traced for an end to the mystery.
"Women, Politics, and Murder" is about a building contractor who is shot dead. A confession clears the widow. Then a witness is found.

"The Golden Horseshoe" is where the Operative looks for a missing husband and returns to find a dead client. The murder is solved.
"Nightmare Town" is a small town in the desert that mines a ships a chemical. There is crime and corruption here. Is there a secret to this small town?
"The Whosis Kid" is where the Operative learns about an attempted rub-out and finds a woman in hiding. Conflicts lead to the end of this story.
"The Scorched Face" occurs where the daughters of a millionaire disappear, and one is found dead. Were they victims of a blackmail racket?

"Dead Yellow Women" is about the death of a maid servant that involves the Operative. Is there a smuggling racket of opium and guns?
"The Gutting of Couffignal" occurs when there is robbery of a bank and jewelry store in a small town. Can the masked thieves be caught?
"The Assistant Murderer" occurs when the Operative is hired to learn who is following a young woman. This leads to incredible complications.
"Creeping Siamese" involves a visitor who drops dead from a stab wound. Was this linked to a shooting? There is a surprise confession.

"The Big Knockover" is about coordinated robberies in a city at the same time. Can they robbers be caught? Or the ringleaders?
"$106,000 Blood Money" is about a reward offered for the escaped gang leader. Can he be found and trapped in his hide-out? The gang is captured with casualties.
"The Main Death" is the investigation by the Operative in a building. A thorough search locates the hidden money and robbers.
"This King Business" is about sending an Operative to a small Balkan country to meet a wealthy American who dreams of royalty. Will the man who controls the army take over the country?

"Fly Paper" is about the search for the daughter of a wealthy man who became friends with grifters. The Operative finds her murdered. Who did it?
"The Farewell Murder" is about an Operative who is sent to guard a millionaire from an old enemy. There are two suspects for the murder with an alibi. There is a surprising solution.
"Woman in the Dark" tells how Luise flees from a house. A man fights to protect her, he is arrested. Will things work out in the end? [Was this the start of an unfinished novel?]
"Two Sharp Knives" is about a wanted man arrested for murder, who commits suicide in jail. The wanted circular was a forgery! His wife had disappeared earlier but now shows up.
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