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The Big Knockover And Other Stories by…

The Big Knockover And Other Stories (original 1966; edition 1986)

by Dashiell Hammett

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7481218,381 (4.04)4
Title:The Big Knockover And Other Stories
Authors:Dashiell Hammett
Info:Penguin Books (1986), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 416 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Big Knockover: Selected Stories and Short Novels by Dashiell Hammett (1966)

  1. 00
    Omnibus (Fast One / Seven Slayers) by Paul Cain (Thomas64)
    Thomas64: Paul Cain and Hammett were two of the major Black Mask writers.

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I liked 4 out of the 5 stories herein, therefore, 4 stars! I've always liked the Continental Op a lot, and the four tales of his in this book do not disappoint! I like that we don't get his name, nor his boss', the "Old Man", he isn't in the best shape, and he isn't afraid to shoot! Or steal a crutch! The title story was fun, with lots of old timey crook nicknames and double crosses! The story I didn't like, "Tulip", was not a Continental Op story, and honestly, I'm not sure what it really was. Sort of a meandering tale, and one I wasn't into. But the other 4 are good, and well worth reading! ( )
  Stahl-Ricco | Feb 4, 2018 |
Big (451 pages) collection of Continental Op stories plus Tulip, Hammett's unfinished novel. Most of the Op tales are novella-length, while Tulip runs just under 50 pages. It's a sad, meandering fragment, as shockingly unfocused as the author's finished works are masterpieces of precision; the reader never even learns why the title character calls himself Tulip.

But let's get to the good stuff. Hammett was firing on all cylinders when he wrote the Continental Op stories: they're action-packed, grimly funny and unafraid to depict human beings as the very fallible creatures they are, usually acting from less than noble motives. The title story and its sequel, "$106,000 Blood Money", are the best of the lot, their frenetic pace and high body count foreshadowing Hammett's first novel Red Harvest. Only "This King Business" (in which the Op travels to the fictional Balkan republic of Muravia to track down a young American expatriate) fell flat for me. ( )
  Jonathan_M | Aug 17, 2017 |
The Continental Op is my favorite Hammett detective, partly for his unpretentious professionalism. He is short and fat and no-one would mistake him for a glamorous private eye, but he does his job very effectively. Odd;y enough the story i think of in this collection as being "the Big Knockover" is not testory that really bears that title, but "The Gutting of Couffignol" in which the Op is guarding wedding presents at the house of a wealthy man who is one of a select few owning houses on Couffignol, an island off the California coast. Hoever, in the night to whole island full of rich mansions is looted by a desperate gang of alleged White Russians led by an alleged White Russian princess. Possibly the fact that Hammet's White Russians are villains, not attractive crooks like Poirot's Countess Vera or admirable victims like the ones in Buchan's Huntingtower says something about Hammett''s politicl commitments. ( )
  antiquary | Oct 24, 2016 |
The Continental Ops stories by Dashiell Hammett, originally published in the various pulp mystery magazines of the 1920s through 1950s, are collected in four different books, with some overlap. There is The Continental Op, The Return of the Continental Op, Nightmare Town and this volume, The Big Knockover.


Having read the first, I stumbled across the last at The Strand bookstore and decided it was worth a try since I liked the stories I’ve read. But I agree with Lillian Hellman’s comment in the introduction to the extent that some of the writing is good and some not so good. The good thing about the book is Hellman’s introduction from which we learn a bit about their relationship.

Regarding the 10 stories in the book, however, one in particular, Tulip, was indeed strange. Tulip, is actually an unfinished novella to which Hammett apparently wrote the last paragraph but left a big gap in the middle. A rambling conversation between two ‘friends’, it goes nowhere. If it’s a Continental Op story (which I thought all the stories were going to be), I’m stymied, since detecting is not mentioned once.. It sounds more like a semi-autobiographical story aimed at the glossy, ‘literary’ magazines to which Hammett aspired, than a mystery.ContinentalOps

The namesake story, The Big Knockover is an imaginative, intricate story about a huge, coordinated bank heist. It contains Hammett’s typical, descriptive prose and a gaggle of gangster names reminiscent of the era. The story merits kudos. However, the followup story, $106,000 Blood Money, seems like an afterthought, with a strange ending that comes out of nowhere. It’s almost like nowadays when sequel upon sequel is issued to squeeze every last nickel out of a story.TheLostDetective

There’s Corkscrew, a ‘western’ in which the Continental Op is hired as sheriff of a small desert town. The story has horses and shoot ’em ups. The Scorched Face, which I read before and liked, is about two missing daughters, and This King Business is an odd story taking place in a foreign land. The remaining stories are relatively ‘normal’ Continental Op stories.

If you’re a Dashiell Hammett fan or a Continental Op fan, be sure to read both books, The Continental Op and The Big Knockover. If you have to choose one, or you want to whet your teeth and get a taste, The Continental Op is the better book.

Other good books on the subject of Hammett include The Lost Detective: Becoming Dashiell Hammett (which is up for an Edgar Award this year) and The Hunter and Other Stories, which tends more towards his literary writings. The first is definitely worth the read as it goes into Hammett’s days as a Pinkerton Detective and how it might have influenced his works, especially the Continental Op writings.

And of course, you can always fall back on Hammett’s classics, The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man series.

In conclusion, you can’t go wrong reading Hammett. It’s that simple. ( )
  EdGoldberg | Jan 23, 2016 |
Wonderful introduction by Lillian Hellman. This collection was the weakest of the Hammet that I've read. Some fun moments. Tulip, a semi-autobiographical story, didn't fit with the Continental Op stories. ( )
  encephalical | Nov 23, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679722599, Paperback)

Short, thick-bodied, mulishly stubborn, and indifferent to physical pain, Dashiell Hammett's Continental Op was the prototype for generations of tough-guy detectives. He is also the hero of most of the nine stories in this volume. The Op's one enthusiasm is doing his job, and in The Big Knockover the jobs entail taking on a gang of modern-day freebooters, a vice-ridden hell's acre in the Arizona desert, and the bank job to end all bank jobs, along with such assorted grifters as Babe McCloor, Bluepoint Vance, Alphabet Shorty McCoy, and the Dis-and-Dat Kid.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:14 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Short fictional works by the modern American writer explore the world of crime and violence, mysterious women, and hard-hitting private detectives.

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