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The Continental Op by Dashiell Hammett

The Continental Op (1945)

by Dashiell Hammett

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Continental Op (short stories)

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1,0862211,451 (4.04)27



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English (19)  Spanish (3)  All languages (22)
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
(Original review, 1981-03-01)

Hammett made no secret of Hammett’s wider (I suppose "wider" will do) literary ambitions, or that he earned his living writing a particular kind of story long after he'd have preferred to write something else. What I don't know is how and especially when he picked up his knowledge of literature. If ever there was an autodidact, it was Hammett. He left school at fourteen and set out on an amazingly varied series of jobs. Somewhere in the course of these he learned to write. I've said before that I suspect it was by writing his reports for Pinkerton's - for someone with his talent that would have been enough to turn out the early Op stories. At some (probably) later time, his reading and his artistic ambitions expanded - before he met Hellman? Hanging around with her crowd? I have no idea, except that I'm sure that it happened and that it didn't happen all at once.

I suspect that he was first exposed to contemporary American fiction, the writing of his professional peers: that, for instance, he read Dos Passos before he got deep into Milton (if he ever did), that he was au courant with culturally dominant ideas about Realism, that he knew what Hemingway was doing and what Hemingway (and others - Lord, were there others...) said about what Hemingway was doing - and how well he was paid for doing it. But I don't know these things, I only think them likely.
I also know that deep myths and archetypes are sometimes invoked by authors who have never heard them explicitly discussed (which is why archetypes are archetypes, after all). I know that it isn't pointless to discuss Hammett as though he knew all about medieval mysteries and Satan's rebellion, and its Promethean antecedents whether he did or not. But my curiosity isn't wired that way: I'm more interested in what he thought he was doing, and I'm much, much more interested in his actual work.

Too many hyper-interpretive schools of criticism have risen and fallen since I left school to make me regret my ignorance of them very much, and if I'm careful I may never let it slip that I still think Pater, Pound and Empson - and Poe too for that matter - had the last word about how to read a book.

“The Continental Op” is not quintessential Hammett, but it’s still pretty good. ( )
  antao | Dec 5, 2018 |
Quite simply the best thing Hammett ever did. A great character who is not a thug (like Sam Spade) or an alcoholic (like Nick and Nora) but a fellow who does his job as best he can without pretending to be something he's not. DH's prose style was at its best her: clipped, terse, concise, telling you everything you need to know and not a bit more.
Read this one...and toss the others out. ( )
1 vote jameshold | Jul 22, 2017 |
Pretty pulpy.
A collection of short stories.
Stories include The Tenth Clew, The Golden Horseshoe, The House in Turk Street, The Girl with the Silver Eyes, The Whosis Kid, The Main Death, and the Farewell Murder.
Not well-developed and kind of campy.
I received no compensation, not even a free copy, in exchange for this review. I was not personal friends with the author, nor did I follow him on social media. ( )
  polywogg | Dec 30, 2016 |
Devious dames, ham-fisted mugs with guns to boot, and intrigue and double crossings to make your head spin! Yep, the Continental Op has all this and more! And as he chases leads and bad guys and gals through the streets of San Francisco, we get 7 adventures to tag along! I liked "The Whosis Kid" the most, and "The Farewell Murder" the least. But, the Op is the Op, and I am a big fan! ( )
  Stahl-Ricco | Jan 23, 2016 |
I wasn't sure what to start my year with. Then suddenly I was in the used bookstore and this slim volume caught my eye. Hey you. Yeah, you. You know you can't pass up a Hammett. So true. I had high hopes. There were flashes of genius but it never broke out into the page-turning glee of its Maltese brother. The Continental Op is no Sam Spade.

The Chinese set down his tan bag and shook his head. "There will be no killing," he drawled, "or there will be quite a bit of killing. You don't mistake my meaning, do you, Hook?" - The House in Turk Street ( )
  VictoriaPL | Jan 5, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hammett, Dashiellprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Debbie GlassermanDesignermain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Keith Sheridan AssociatesCover designermain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marcus, StevenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Slonims, NancyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Mr. Leopold Gantvoort is not at home," the servant who opened the door said, "but his son, Mr. Charles, is --if you wish to see him."
The Chinese set down his tan bag and shook his head. "There will be no killing," he drawled, "or there will be quite a bit of killing. You don't mistake my meaning, do you, Hook?" - The House in Turk Street
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679722580, Paperback)

Short, thick-bodied, mulishly stubborn, and indifferent to pain, Dashiell Hammett's Continetal Op was the prototype for generations of tough-guy detectives. In these stories the Op unravels a murder with too many clues, looks for a girl with eyes the color of shadows on polished silver, and tangles with a crooked-eared gunman called the Whosis Kid.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:23 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The definitive collection of stories starring the Continental Op, Dashiell Hammett's legendary private detective. In the early days of pulp periodicals, the gold standard of crime fiction was Black Mask magazine. And of all the cops, killers, and gumshoes who blasted through its pages, none was more influential than Dashiell Hammett's nameless Continental Op. Stout and unglamorous, with a keen mind, professional determination, and a steady trigger finger, the Op was the toughest sleuth in San Francisco. Before Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe, or Lew Archer, this infamous tough guy introduced the world to hardboiled private eyes and changed crime fiction forever. Based on Hammett's real-life experience as a private investigator, the Op introduced rough-hewn realism to mystery fiction. This remarkable volume includes all twenty-eight Continental Op short-story adventures in their original form, along with Hammett's unfinished and never-before-published "Three Dimes." It is a collection that no true fan of crime fiction should dare to live without.… (more)

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