Red Harvest Paperback – Jul 17 1989
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From Library Journal
The Continental Op, hero of this mystery, is a cool, experienced employee of the Continental Detective Agency. Client Donald Wilson has been killed, and the Op must track down his murderer. Personville, better known as Poisonville, is an unattractive company town, owned by Donald's father, Elihu, but controlled by several competing gangs. Alienated by the local turf wars, the Op finagles Elihu into paying for a second job, "cleaning up Poisonville." Confused yet? This is only the beginning of an incredibly convoluted plot. Hammett's exquisitely defined charactersDthe shabby, charming, and completely mercenary lady-of-the-evening; the lazy, humorous yet cold and avaricious police chief; and especially the tautly written, gradual disintegration of the Op's detached personalityDmake this a compelling read. In addition, William Dufris's performance is outstanding. Each character has his/her own unique vocal tag composed of both tonal inflections and speech patterns suited to his/her persona. Wonderful! The only flaw is the technical difficulty of cueing the "track book marked" CD format. An exceptional presentation of a lesser classic from the golden age of the mystery genre. Recommended for all but the smallest public and academic libraries.DI. Pour-El, Des Moines Area Community Coll., Boone, IA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
"An acknowledged literary landmark." --NY Times Book Review.
"Dashiell Hammett is an original. He is a master of the detective novel, yes, but also one hell of a writer." -- Boston Globe
"Hammett's prose [is] clean and entirely unique. His characters [are] as sharply and economically defined as any in American fiction."
--The New York Times
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Top Customer Reviews
There are four king-pins. They're working with each other comfortably, and with the crooked police chief. There's a 'dame' [of course] who is quite in with the king-pins but will tell whatever she wants about him and anyone else she knows, so long as the price is right. Note : whatever She wants. The Op can't assume it's the straight dope.
So how does he turn this mutual appreciation society against each other? It's quite a good old-time caper novel, with gunfire, ice-picks and a high body count. I'm not a fan of the grit and gore type of mystery generally; but I like Hammet and Chandler and this is good stuff. Something about the Op that gets me. Maybe it's that he's pushing 50 and the reflexes are slowing, and he's seen it all and frankly isn't impressed.
In "Red Harvest," the Op is summoned to Personville (known locally as Poisonville), where he is engaged by newspaper publisher Donald Willson, who is murdered before the agent has an opportunity to meet him. At first the novel feels like a traditional murder mystery; in its first half there are two homicides (among more than two dozen gangland-style assassinations) whose clues are scattered for the reader--and the Op--to solve.
Yet the two whodunits are red herrings meant to distract--and entertain--the reader (and crime novel aficionados will figure both of them out within a few paragraphs). Not just a murder mystery, "Red Harvest" pursues broader themes: how corruption and greed poisons the inhabitants of Poisonville, how the Op is able to thwart the ambitions of various criminals by playing their own unprincipled game, and how his own abandonment of professional code nearly destroys the detective himself.
Most of the crooks are stock figures from noir central casting, but the novel's femme fatale, Dinah Brand, is the most memorable.Read more ›
"Red Harvest"'s opening paragraph is one of the best hooks I've ever read in a novel. It's fantastic. We are sucked into the mind of our narrator, the unnamed Continental operative, and we want only to read more about this man of such blunt wit. The Continental Op has been called to a town named Personville by the owner of the town's newspaper, Donald Willsson. He doesn't know what the job is, but before he can find out, the client is murdered. So the first order of business is to solve the murder. In doing so, our detective discovers how Personville got its nickname, Poisonville. Everything and everyone in this town is corrupt.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Dashiell Hammett is a great writer but, for my money, Red Harvest should never have been published. It's really a western. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Vince Marinelli
Red Harvest is my first taste of Dashiell Hammett. And I'm going back for more. This story had me hooked by the first couple of pages and left me always wanting more. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Shawn Evans
The best thing about Dashiell Hammett books is that they are usually readable within 48 hours and yet still contain enough interesting content to prove satisfying. Read morePublished on Oct. 31 2003
This was the first novel featuring Hammett's short story character, The Continental Op, and it's well worth reading. Read morePublished on July 7 2003 by Thomas Stamper
The story is told by an agent from the Continental Detective Agency. He has been called to the town of Personville or, as he explains, is more aptly named, Poisonville. Read morePublished on Feb. 26 2003 by Untouchable
This is a hard tale of a hard guy, a nameless private detective, who arrives in the western mining town of Personville (called "Poisonville" by many of its criminal... Read morePublished on Dec 16 2002 by Stuart W. Mirsky
Dashiell Hammett took the mystery story out of the drawing room and put it squarely into the American street with his stories of his nameless Continental Detective Agency Private... Read morePublished on Sept. 10 2002 by Steven R. Harbin
Despite what Europeans say, Americans do have a culture all their own. This is proven by the existence of our own myths, legends, tall tales, archtypes. Read morePublished on Aug. 5 2002 by Sesho