Sunday, 11 May 2008

Red Harvest

Title: Red Harvest

Author: Dashiell Hammett

Number of pages: 224

Started: 30 April 2008

Finished: 11 May 2008

Opening words:

The Continental Op first heard Personville called Poisonville by Hickey Dewey. But since Dewey also called a shirt a shoit, he didn't think anything of it. Until he went there and his client, the only honest man in Poisonville, was murdered. Then the Op decided to stay to punish the guilty. And that meant taking on the entire town...

Plot summary:

The Continental Op, hero of this mystery, is a cool, experienced employee of the Continental Detective Agency. Client Donald Wilson has been killed, and the Op must track down his murderer. Personville, better known as Poisonville, is an unattractive company town, owned by Donald's father, Elihu, but controlled by several competing gangs. Alienated by the local turf wars, the Op finagles Elihu into paying for a second job, "cleaning up Poisonville." Confused yet? This is only the beginning of an incredibly convoluted plot. Hammett's exquisitely defined characters the shabby, charming, and completely mercenary lady-of-the-evening; the lazy, humorous yet cold and avaricious police chief; and especially the tautly written, gradual disintegration of the Op's detached personality make this a compelling read. In addition, William Dufris's performance is outstanding. Each character has his/her own unique vocal tag composed of both tonal inflections and speech patterns suited to his/her persona. Wonderful! The only flaw is the technical difficulty of cueing the "track book marked" CD format. An exceptional presentation of a lesser classic from the golden age of the mystery genre.

Plot summary taken from

What I thought:

This novel was described as “hard boiled” and I can understand why. It was like reading a 1940s black and white film unfold before your eyes in written form. It was not a very descriptive book and relied on conversation and brief additional sentences to fill in the gaps.

I’m not sure I would say that I enjoyed the book, it was ok, but perhaps a bit too stark for my liking, but I can see what it epitomises this type of literature.

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