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Episode 42-Dashiell Hammett & the Dain Curse

Welcome to our 42nd episode. Join Shaner and Bob as they rediscover Dashiell Hammett and how much they love a gritty crime noir with a hardboiled detective. Last year, Shaner completed the Red Harvest, the Dain Curse and many short stories based on the character, the Continental Op.

Dashiell Hammett was an actual Private Investigator for the National Pinkerton Dectective Angency, a veteran of WWI & WWII and suffered from tuberculosis, emphysema and died from lung cancer. 

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Samuel Dashiell Hammett was an author of hard-boiled detective novels and short stories. He was also a screenwriter and political activist. Among the characters he created are Sam Spade (The Maltese Falcon), Nick and Nora Charles (The Thin Man), The Continental Op (Red Harvest and The Dain Curse) and the comic strip character Secret Agent X-9.


Hammett is regarded as one of the very best mystery writers of all time. In his obituary in The New York Times, he was described as "the dean of the... 'hard-boiled' school of detective fiction."


The Continental Op made his debut in the October 1923 issue of Black Mask, making him one of the earliest hard-boiled private detective characters to appear in the pulp magazines of the early twentieth century. He appeared in 36 short stories, all but two of which appeared in Black Mask.


With the intent of transitioning from short stories to novels, Hammett began writing linked stories in 1924, "The House in Turk Street" and "The Girl with the Silver Eyes". Two other related stories, "The Big Knockover" and "$106,000 Blood Money" appeared in Black Mask in 1927. The transition culminated in 1927, with the linked stories which formed the basis for his first two novels, Red Harvest and The Dain Curse, both novels released in 1929. The texts in the novels differ from the pulp magazine versions as they were revised by an editor at Alfred A. Knopf.



Time included Hammett's 1929 novel Red Harvest on its list of the 100 best English-language novels published between 1923 and 2005. In 1990, the Crime Writers' Association picked three of his five novels for their list of The Top 100 Crime Novels of All Time.


Five years later, The Maltese Falcon placed second on The Top 100 Mystery Novels of All Time as selected by the Mystery Writers of America; Red Harvest, The Glass Key and The Thin Man were also on the list. His novels and stories also had a significant influence on films, including the genres of private eye/detective fiction, mystery thrillers, and film noir.

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