The Continental Op Paperback – Jul 17 1989
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.
To get the free app, enter your e-mail address or mobile phone number.
'...the Continental Op features in seven superb stories in this collection. Please, dear reader, I beg you, buy this book and treat yourself to the work of a true master of the crime genre.' -- Vincent Banville IRISH TIMES 'Orion's magnificent Crime Masterworks series ...has collected seven of the finest Continental Op short stories in a single volume... It is a magnificent collection, marking year zero in the hard-boiled school of crime fiction... Hugely recommended.' BURTON EVENING MAIL 'Some of the best examples of Hammett's work, painting a bleak picture of an American society warped by brutality, greed and treachery.' WESTERN DAILY PRESS --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Dashiell Samuel Hammett was born in St. Mary’s County. He grew up in Philadelphia and Baltimore. Hammett left school at the age of fourteen and held several kinds of jobs thereafter—messenger boy, newsboy, clerk, operator, and stevedore, finally becoming an operative for Pinkerton’s Detective Agency. Sleuthing suited young Hammett, but World War I intervened, interrupting his work and injuring his health. When Sergeant Hammett was discharged from the last of several hospitals, he resumed detective work. He soon turned to writing, and in the late 1920s Hammett became the unquestioned master of detective-story fiction in America. In The Maltese Falcon (1930) he first introduced his famous private eye, Sam Spade. The Thin Man (1932) offered another immortal sleuth, Nick Charles. Red Harvest (1929), The Dain Curse (1929), and The Glass Key (1931) are among his most successful novels. During World War II, Hammett again served as sergeant in the Army, this time for more than two years, most of which he spent in the Aleutians. Hammett’s later life was marked in part by ill health, alcoholism, a period of imprisonment related to his alleged membership in the Communist Party, and by his long-time companion, the author Lillian Hellman, with whom he had a very volatile relationship. His attempt at autobiographical fiction survives in the story “Tulip,” which is contained in the posthumous collection The Big Knockover (1966, edited by Lillian Hellman). Another volume of his stories, The Continental Op (1974, edited by Stephen Marcus), introduced the final Hammett character: the “Op,” a nameless detective (or “operative”) who displays little of his personality, making him a classic tough guy in the hard-boiled mold—a bit like Hammett himself.See all Product Description
Inside This Book(Learn More)
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
Truly, he is the most interesting of Hammett's series characters. He is tough, ethical according to his code, and keeps his true emotions buried under the toughness and the physical bulk. He is a cynic, one who assumes that each person involved is undoubtedly lying. On the occasions that a female character makes a play for him, he assumes that she has an angle. And he, in turn, formulates his own lies which have the effect of bringing out the truth. There are times that he is as surprised at the outcome as the reader is.
Hammett is skillful in the way he keeps the op in character, and the reader needs to be alert to catch some of the subtleties such as a restrained sense of humor when the crooks trap themselves by thinking he's after them when he's completely unaware of what they've done; a buried feeling of remorse when a client is murdered because the op had the wrong assumption; a decision not to unnecessarily involve an erring wife who's resigned herself to having her infidelity revealed.
These stories indeed have literary value while being engrossing crime stories. If you enjoy today's tough police detectives such as Harry Bosch, you will find these far earlier stories engrossing.
Most recent customer reviews
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. Read morePublished on Oct. 24 2003 by Karie Hoskins
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. Read morePublished on July 2 2003
This is the first Dashiell Hammett book I've read. It's actually a collection of short stories revolving around the exploits of the Continental Op, a nameless private dick who... Read morePublished on Jan. 13 2002 by Jeffrey Leach
Overweight, cynical, and rawhide tough, this nondescript, nameless operative for the Continental Detective Agency slugs and schemes his way through a series of entertaining... Read morePublished on Sept. 24 2001 by George R Dekle
Dashiell Hammett's Continental Op detective stories see the beginnings of the hard-boiled detective in American fiction. Read morePublished on Sept. 17 2001 by James Paris
This collection of stories entertains, and also educates on some of the techniques used in detective work. Read morePublished on Aug. 23 2001
I am astonished at the ignorance of most people about thewriting of Dashiell Hammett. Few people, if asked, could tell you thenumber of novels he wrote featuring Sam Spade... Read morePublished on July 27 2000 by Patrick Burnett
After reading the Maltese Falcon 5 times and getting over the fact that Hammett didn't write 10 more Sam Spade novels I picked up the Continental Op. Read morePublished on May 21 2000 by Thomas Stamper