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The Continental Op Paperback – Jul 17 1989


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (July 17 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679722580
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679722588
  • Product Dimensions: 20.7 x 13 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #135,990 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By mirasreviews on April 14 2004
Format: Paperback
"The Continental Op" contains seven short stories featuring Dashiell Hammett's terse, sharp-witted, and always unnamed operative from The Continental Detective Agency. "Black Mask" magazine published 36 Continental Op stories by Dashiell Hammett between 1923 and 1930 (eight which were later transformed into novels), so this is just a smattering. These stories are not as thematically complex as many of Hammett's novels, but the Op's first person narration renders the characters especially vividly. And his sardonic internal monologues sting like a branding iron, and leave about as strong an impression. Though Hammett's scathing cynicism is better articulated in his novels, "The Continental Op" is an excellent showcase of the elements which have made Hammett's work so popular for over eighty years: blunt talk, economic and very readable prose, femmes fatales, contemptible but colorful criminals, violence, mystery, and a decidedly unglamorous "everyman" protagonist who lives by his own strict code of conduct.
Unlike Hammett's novels, this collection of short stories includes an introduction by the book's editor, Steven Marcus. It won't be news to readers who are familiar with Dashiell Hammett's life and works, but readers who are new to Hammett may find the progression of Hammett's career, personal life and politics, discussed in Marcus' essay, interesting and helpful in placing his work in context. "The Continental Op" is an excellent introduction to the writing of Dashiell Hammett, similar to the manner in which the American public discovered his works in "Black Mask" during the 1920s. And if you're already a Hammett fan, these wonderfully entertaining stories are not to be missed.
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Format: Paperback
In my humble opinion, the key to Dashiell Hammett's greatness is found in his unique writing style. His sentences flow across the page. Their words sing out to you. Many imitators have come and gone but none have matched his smooth yet jarring prose. The Continental Op, edited by Steven Marcus, is a collection of seven short stories all featuring the title character. As you know, the Continental Op is that nameless San Francisco detective whose personal life away from the job, if indeed he has one, remains the greatest mystery of all. All the stories contained in this volume are first rate. They all drip with delicious descriptions of greed, deception and betrayal. They are all skillfully constructed to maximize suspense and reader interest. The first time around, you'll want to read slowly so as to savor each phrase, while at the same time you'll want to hurry up and get to the end to find out what happens. Read this book. You will not be disappointed. No other collection of short stories has ever packed more of a wallop.
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Format: Paperback
For a man who actively wrote for only a short period of time, it's amazing Dashiel Hammet has such a high percentage of quality stuff. "The Thin Man", "The Glass Key", "The Maltese Falcon" all defined the modern detective story and the image of the modern detective. Guys like Sam Spade and Nick Charles--always clever, sometimes handsome and tough, never-say-die, except to opposing bad guys.
So I was intrigued by the Op character when I ran across him in "Nightmare Town", another collection of Hammett stories, I pursued more.
The Op is based on Hammett's own experience working as an agency detective with parts of other real-life colleagues thrown in. He's middle-aged, short, overweight, has thinning hair, and is always cautious (for good reason). He has a workmanlike approach to his job, focuses on the facts, and avoids entanglements with dames. He takes pride in a job well-done, and has an appropriately-placed sense of right, wrong and how justice should be served.
I thoroughly enjoyed the 'Op' stories, even though their setting is the America of seventy or eighty years ago and the jargon is sometimes obscure. The plots are good, characters believable, and the protagonist is a likable, clever, and tough detective.
Some of Hammett's best writing is within these pages. All you detective story fans-if you haven't read it, pick this one up for sure.
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Format: Paperback
So I absolutely ADORE the Thin Man movies, and liked the novel The Thin Man - so I had to read more of Hammett's work. This collection of short stories featuring the unnamed Continental Op was good beach type reading that wasn't cheesy. The stories are the traditional "hard-boiled detective meets gorgeous broad gone wrong" type - by the man who invented the genre (something I learned in the fascinating intro!)
Fast-paced and well written - this a great book to take on an airplane/sit by a Las Vegas casino pool - and one that doesn't leave you with cavities or a cheese hangover.
(Also - for fans of the Thin Man movie series - the last story might seem VERY familiar...)
Read up!
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By A Customer on July 2 2003
Format: Paperback
I never knew that Hammett could be beyond hardboiled and noir. These stories have O'Henry like twists to them and some really funny prose. And they're long enough to get some development but short enough to finish in a normal sitting. It's fun.
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