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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A change of pace for Hammett
This time around, the main character is not a detective, but a gambler with political friends & enemies, one friend in particular. While there is a dead body early in the story, this protagonist doesn't seem all that interested in who the murderer is until the pivotal scene when he gets severely beaten for not turning on his former friend who he's temporarily on the...
Published on July 23 2002 by Neal Reynolds

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3.0 out of 5 stars prohibitian era corruption
This book is somewhat amusing, yet not as spectacular as I hoped. Ned Beaumont, the sometimes gambler, sometimes political crony is deputized by the DA and attempts to use his wits and his indestructable body to solve the murder of a senator's son. Several subplots are interweaved, but none appealed much to me. I did appreciate the telegraphic writing style, but I...
Published on May 14 2002 by Paul Skinner


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A change of pace for Hammett, July 23 2002
By 
Neal Reynolds (Indianapolis, Indiana) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Glass Key (Paperback)
This time around, the main character is not a detective, but a gambler with political friends & enemies, one friend in particular. While there is a dead body early in the story, this protagonist doesn't seem all that interested in who the murderer is until the pivotal scene when he gets severely beaten for not turning on his former friend who he's temporarily on the outs with.
I've noticed this plot gimmick more than once in Hammett. The rascally characters bring the protagonist's wrath upon them by needlessly attacking him. That happened in one of the shorter Continental Op stories and then again in Red Harvest and now in this one. One could put The Maltese Falcon in that class also.
Personally, I had trouble liking the characters until that pivotal scene, and then only did I get involved with them. So I do feel that this had the weakest opening of Hammett's major works. However, once one gets through the first part, it becomes as riveting as any of Hammett's.
So I do very much recommend this one along with Hammett's other books.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Business,Politics & Murder Make Interesting Election Results, June 8 2004
By 
mirasreviews (McLean, VA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Glass Key (Paperback)
"The Glass Key" is probably Dashiell Hammett's best-constructed novel. Our detective this time is not a professional sleuth, but Ned Beaumont, a sharp, tough, unglamorous, right-hand man to Paul Madvig, a powerful corrupt-as-the-next-guy businessman with political ambitions. Paul intends to win an upcoming city election and marry a Senator's daughter. But only a few weeks before the election, Taylor Henry, the Senator's son and brother of Paul's intended, is found murdered in the street. The police are desperate to solve this high-profile case. The city's various political forces are inclined to use Taylor Henry's death to leverage the upcoming election. Information is power, and whoever knows the identity of the murderer may control the election. Paul Madvig's now-precarious influence appoints Ned Beaumont as special investigator for the District Attorney's Office, and the newly-credentialed Ned sets out to sort out the murder before it sorts out the power structure in this unnamed Depression-era city.
"The Glass Key" explores the interdependent cultures of politics, industry, and news media, which combine to thoroughly immerse the city in corruption. As much as I admire Hammett's themes and enjoy his stories, I've never considered the stories, themselves, to be plausible. I wouldn't have much trouble believing that the characters or events described in "The Glass Key" could actually have existed, though. This is the most grounded in realism of any of Hammett's novels, and it's the most tightly written. The novel is evenly paced and, like its protagonist Ned Beaumont, is spare, focused, and direct in its purpose. Despite the story's third-person narration that never reveals anyone's thoughts or emotions, the characters are well-drawn and never flat. Ironically, the narrative's objectivity seems, if anything, to intensify its brutality. By focusing its attention on the personal and professional machinations behind city politics, "The Glass Key" creates an insider's view of power in America, circa 1930. By keeping the identity of the murderer and the outcome of the power plays secret until the very end, Hammett keeps us interested. Although it lacks "The Maltese Falcon"'s exotic characters and more ambitious themes, "The Glass Key" is among Hammett's best works, and I believe it's his second-best novel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Piece about Politics, Corruption and Murder, Nov. 23 2002
This review is from: The Glass Key (Paperback)
I was bowled over by this one. Oddly laconic with some rather awkward turns of phrase (he did it "difficultly"?!!), the writing, nevertheless, is nearly airtight and so sharply laid down that it carries and sets the mood beautifully in this strange tale of a political boss and his gambler buddy who are bent on winning their particular games of life. Paul Madvig, the boss, wants to win the upcoming elections and ensure continuation of his candidates in office while Ned Beaumont, the lone-wolf gambler, wants to get back on a winning streak, collect on a bad debt and protect his apparently dense friend Madvig who has stumbled into a situation. Madvig is in love with a senator's daughter and keen to win her hand and so has allowed his usual good judgement to become clouded. In shifting his political support to the senator, he has lost touch with his own less-than-respectable base, allowing a local gangster to muscle in on his territory. Intent on pushing the gangster back, he makes a dumb play and is soon sucked into a problem surrounding the unsolved murder of the senator's son. Who did it and why are the questions that lie at the core of Madvig's problems and only Beaumont is clever enough, and cares enough, to get to the bottom of it. Along the way Beaumont takes a bloody beating, participates in a murder and loses what he cares most for in all the world. Although the tale takes a while to get revved up and some of the transitions are so abrupt as to be jarring, this was not only a great "detective" story but one with real resonance that goes well beyond the genre in which it has been cast. I recently read Chandler's The Big Sleep and thought very highly of it, giving it five amazon stars. Well, this one's even better. -- SWM
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Primer on Local Politics, Aug. 30 2001
This review is from: The Glass Key (Paperback)
This novel is about politics, his only work that doesn't deal with the hard-boiled detective that he invented. But Ned Beaumont (nee Schoenberg?) gets fixed up as a special investigator to look into the murder of the Senator's son. Ned tracks down the bookmaker who welshed and skipped town, and uses "the hat trick" to claim his winnings; money is power. Afterwards he acts like a private detective as well as a political crony. Disagreeing with Paul Madvig, he meets Shad O'Rory; Shad tries bribery and torture to get Ned to betray his friend Paul. Ned escapes this trap, and helps to solve the murder of an eye-witness. In telling this, the book shows how a newspaper can slant the news: "they wouldn't print it if it wasn't true"!
This novel seems to be a variation on Hammett's detective stories, using "politics" as the "root of evil". But there is a relationship between political power and the love of money. This book shows government functioning as a feudal system: a ruler accepts loyalty from his subjects, and in turn helps and supports them. But the ruler may accept an election loss if that will punish disloyalty and keep his personal power. Could a blue-blooded aristocratic politician sacrifice his son, pimp his daughter, and attempt murder to keep political power? You can judge how this novel approximates the real world. (The book mentions that New York is a train ride away; does this imply Albany or Philadelphia?)
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5.0 out of 5 stars The master at the peak of his powers, March 20 1998
By 
burglar "burglar" (Newport Beach, Ca. USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Glass Key (Paperback)
When you've finished reading this novel (and if you care anything about the American detective story, you will read this novel), think back. Can you recall even the slightest hint of emotion, or the smallest display of caring by one individual for another? I don't think so, and this is the essence of hard-boiled detective stories. Don't get me wrong. You know Ned Beaumont cares about those he is trying to help, and gets beat up for. He's much too tough to show it, though, and that's the key. That's why they call it tough-guy fiction. This story is straight-on, airtight, wonderfully written. In one eighteen-month period Hammett wrote The Maltese Falcon and The Glass Key. Amazing. We shall never see his like again. Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The inventor of the "hard-boiled detective" at his peak., April 26 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: The Glass Key (Paperback)
Dashiell Hammetts creative light burned bright but for a brief 5-10 year period. In "The Glass Key," his penultimate novel, Hammett melded the world of the "hard-boiled detective"--shady underground figures, powerful men and, of course, a beautiful woman--with a theme that recurs throughout his ouvre--of basic trust between kindred souls.

Often over-shadowed in the eyes of readers by the novels that preceeded and followed, "The Maltese Falcon" and "The Thin Man," "The Glass Key" is Hammett at the very top of his form. Writing as no one had before, or has since
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fans of "Miller's Crossing" Will Love This, Its Inspiration, Jan. 13 2003
By 
Chris Ward (Costa Rica) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Glass Key (Paperback)
This is not only one of Hammett's best books, but the obvious inspiration for the Coen Brothers' film "Miller's Crossing." Its cynical, nasty view of corrupt city politics is refreshingly contemporary, and the book stands as one of the best of the 20s/30s all by itself, even today-- but film fans will get an extra kick out of the Coen's wholesale appropriation of language and characters as well. After "Red Harvest," this is my favorite Hammett. Well worth reading every few years.
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3.0 out of 5 stars prohibitian era corruption, May 14 2002
By 
Paul Skinner (Manassas, Virginia United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Glass Key (Paperback)
This book is somewhat amusing, yet not as spectacular as I hoped. Ned Beaumont, the sometimes gambler, sometimes political crony is deputized by the DA and attempts to use his wits and his indestructable body to solve the murder of a senator's son. Several subplots are interweaved, but none appealed much to me. I did appreciate the telegraphic writing style, but I never understood what drove Beaumont to keep going after getting beaten to an inch of his life.
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