Contact Don Collecting San Francisco Mysteries For around a quarter of a century I had a nice little hobby going, collecting crime fiction set within the San Francisco city limits. Hammett started that one off, of course, but I discovered quite a few other writers I liked in addition to the creator of the Continental Op — Samuel W. Taylor, David Dodge, and Virginia Rath personal favorites among them.
They are reportedly reprinted there in their original pulp magazine form, too. The Op is an operative for the fictitious Continental Detective Agency, hence his name. Hammett began publishing the Op stories in the pulp magazine Black Mask in October The first Op story, "Arson Plus", shows the routine of a private investigator for a large detective agency.
He interviews suspects and witnesses, inspects the scene of the crime, cooperates with the local police, and has operatives in other cities run side investigations. The story is low key and with an atmosphere of "realism": Later Hammett works, such as "The Scorched Face"continue in this vein.
These stories strongly recall the realistic police work of Freeman Wills Croftsthen at the peak of his influence and prestige.
The last third of Crofts' best known novel, The Caskis dominated by the sleuthing of an English private investigator, but most of Crofts' books feature the police. Hammett's stories look like an attempt to do for the private investigator what Crofts did for the police.
The detective technique of Hammett's hero, consisting of interviewing witness after witness, often fairly blindly, hoping to turn up clues after accumulating a mass of random details, also has roots in Crofts' books, where his policemen do the same thing.
This technique was preserved and expanded in Hammett's successor Raymond Chandlerand has become a staple of today's p. There are other perhaps more superficial signs of Croftsian influence in early Hammett, as well: The second Op tale "Slippery Fingers"reuses a plot idea associated with R.
Carroll John Daly was already publishing private eye stories in Black Mask for around six months before Hammett created the Op. His heroes, Terry Mack and Race Williams, appeared in tales that were more openly adventure stories than Hammett's more "realistic" portrayals.
They are full of slangy dialogue by a first person narrator, unlike Hammett's. They also have what I have called the pulp style of plottingwhich would be very popular among later pulp writers, although largely absent from Hammett's works.
Hammett was not content to be merely a straightforward purveyor of realistic investigations in the Croftsian manner, although this continued to be an important element of his writing.
His work soon evolved into several uniquely personal directions. The common plot background of most of Hammett's best stories is a region where all rule of law and authority has broken down.
This lawless setting gives Hammett's works a flavor not found in any other writer. The anarchic background seems to stand for some sort of mental breakdown as well, an anarchic letting loose of all repressed possibilities of human existence, both good and bad.
The laws of human relationships seem to be redefined in such situations, too, where people do not relate to each other according to standard practices, but keep negotiating and renegotiating their positions relative to each other, as in the complex standoffs in "The Whosis Kid".
There is a profound sense of abnormality about Hammett's works, but also an exciting sense of new possibilities.
Hammett has few actual imitators, despite the popularity of his fiction. Raymond Chandler seems to be more of actual model for many current private eye writers.
This is even though many people, myself included, regard Hammett as the greater writer. Hammett's works would be very difficult to imitate. They are highly grounded in plot.
First an author would have to construct a background situation of anarchy. Then he or she would have to create a complex formal mystery puzzle plot - Hammett usually had these in his work. Lastly all of this would have to be woven into an adventure story. This is a tremendous job of work, and probably too complex to form a model for other authors.
Chandler, whose effects of situation, character and prose style are relatively plot independent, can far more easily form a direct influence. Similarly, Hammett's brilliantly intricate dialogues would be hard for most other authors to emulate.
A Typology of Hammett's Plots Hammett's tales break down into a series of groups and subgroups. These groups essentially form a tree-like classification, the kind of pattern known to biologists as a taxonomy or cladogram. First the puzzle plot tales, i. While the short "The Joke on Eloise Morey" is not especially in the Realist mode, Hammett later expanded upon its plot ideas to create two much more complex works with puzzle plots:In the title novella of Gurganus’s collection The Practical Heart, a narrator tells the story of how his great-aunt, a poor Scottish immigrant, came to have her portrait painted by John Singer Sargent.
“I’m still amazed that I can make a living by writing, getting paid to explore,” Gurganus says. When barista Martha "Marty" Hudson suddenly inherits a Victorian home at Baker Street in the heart of San Francisco, she's ecstatic.
But between a dead body, the hot ME, Dr. John Watson, and the grumpy SFPD Detective Lestrade, Marty's luck takes a turn for the worse. I should preface this by saying that I'm not the type to spend time writing negative reviews, however I did not have a good experience at Novella Bridal.
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InThe Bughouse Affair, this first of a new series of lighthearted historical mysteries set in s San Francisco, former Pinkerton operative Sabina Carpenter and her detective partner, ex-Secret Service agent John Quincannon, undertake what initially appear to be two unrelated investigations.
novella: Bridal Jitters I want to say that I love these series because of the serviceable writing that is both smooth and witty, with the ability to draw you right into the story, making you forget that you had already read this story a book ago in the same series.