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Dashiell Hammett: Crime Stories and Other Writings (Library of America) Hardcover – September 10, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The first great author in the hard-boiled detective genre, Hammett remains one of the most entertaining, as demonstrated by this largest single gathering ever of his short fiction. This collection's main distinction is that editor Steven Marcus uses the original story texts from their appearance in Black Mask magazine, recovering occasional pieces of lost wording, chapter breaks and other niceties. However, because Hammett is such a standard figure, most of these stories will be familiar to mystery fans from readily available collections. Marcus repeats everything except "Tulip" and "Corkscrew" from The Big Knockover (1966), edited by Lillian Hellman, and every story from The Continental Op (1974), which he edited. The recent Nightmare Town (2001) scooped the original Nick and Nora-less Thin Man fragment out from under him, plus "Zigzags of Treachery," "Two Sharp Knives" and others that would have made this book a highly desirable purchase. Only "Arson Plus," "Slippery Fingers" and "Creeping Siamese" are unique to this selection. Unless you make a line-by-line comparison, you won't notice great differences between these texts and those in the other books (still, the Black Mask wording is the most satisfying). One senses a missed opportunity for the major collection Hammett fandom has longed for: the complete Continental Op short stories, in order, original texts, under one set of covers that would be irresistible. Nonetheless, for the non-specialist, this volume stands as the best compendium yet of this classic crime author's shorter fiction.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Hammett is hot: besides this collection, a new book of his letters is now available, and a scholarly biography is forthcoming. This anthology binds 24 of his top stories in their original form sans editorial cuts plus an early take on The Thin Man and some other goodies. This is a great companion to the publisher's 1999 release of Hammett's Complete Novels and is essential for all libraries.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 934 pages
  • Publisher: Library of America; First Edition edition (September 10, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931082006
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931082006
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.1 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #238,036 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 42 people found the following review helpful By mirasreviews HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
"Crime Stories and Other Writings" contains 24 short stories and 3 additional selections, arranged chronologically, which Dashiell Hammett wrote between 1923 and 1934. The stories all first appeared in pulp fiction magazines and span all but one year of the master of detective fiction's career. "Crime Stories" offers three stories which cannot be found in any other volume currently in print: "Arson Plus" and "Slippery Finger", which were first published in "Black Mask" magazine under the pseudonym Peter Collinson, and "Creeping Siamese". These stories all feature the Continental Op detective, an always nameless, stubbornly practical character whom Hammett based on a fellow detective from his days at Pinkerton Detective Agency, Jimmy Wright, and on himself. Nineteen of this book's stories feature the Continental Op, making it the largest collection of Op stories available. Among the best of these are "Zig Zags of Treachery", "The House on Turk Street", "The Whosis Kid", and "The Big Knockover". "The Girl with the Silver Eyes" is a follow-up to "The House on Turk Street", so be sure to read "Turk Street" first. "The Big Knockover" and "$106,000 Blood Money" were originally a two-parter, but were published as a single novella in 1943. As their styles differ somewhat, the stories are more successful when separated, as they are here. The story called "Women, Politics and Murder" in this volume has been called "Death on Pine Street" in other volumes; they're the same story. It's interesting to note that "Fly Paper" was inspired by two real cases of murder that employed the same peculiar method. Among the five stories that do not feature the Continental Op is the novella "Woman in the Dark". It's mediocre, but has often been published as a stand-alone volume.Read more ›
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54 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 16, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The Library of America did an excellent job with its Raymond Chandler volumes, which lacked only the "cannibalized" stories that Chandler himself asked not to be reprinted, but I can't say the same for its new (and final) volume of Dashiell Hammett.
Of the three Hammett short story collections on my shelves, this volume replaces one: THE CONTINENTAL OP, which happened to be edited by Steven Marcus, the editor of the Library of America volume. It includes only 5 of the 20 selections in the recent NIGHTMARE TOWN repackaging; from THE BIG KNOCKOVER it leaves out "The Gatewood Caper," "Corkscrew" (the Continental Op goes cowboy!), and, most unforgivably, "Tulip," an autobiographical meditation on storytelling which is the only sizable chunk of Hammett's postwar writing ever to surface. It does include "Woman in the Dark," currently in print as a slim single volume, dropping its subtitle ("A Novel of Dangerous Romance"); there may be good textual reasons for that decision, but they aren't described in this edition's notes.
Nice to get this work on acid-free paper, but the Library of America is intended to produce authoritative editions. It's unfortunate if predictable that this goal is forgotten when the series takes on the work which needs such attention most: that which hasn't already received the scholarly text treatment.
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35 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Kristopher Haines on September 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
First they claim to have all of Raymond Chandler's stories in one volume. They don't, four are missing, and just happen to be the ones most sought after by true fans. Not to mention the eight they admit to omitting. They're excuse? Considerations for length and theme, it's true that three of the missing four are not mysteries, and that is what makes them unique. But why did they leave out "The Pencil"? The length problem could have been solved by omitting the section of Chandler's letters, there are whole volumes dedicated to those. And they could have cut some of the essays that are also included in other volumes, and replaced them with other essays that are rotting away in issues of the Atlantic Monthly. And they could have omitted the "Double Indemnity script and repalced it with "The Blue Dahlia" which is out of print.
That is how they messed up their "definative"' collection of Chandler and they seem to have made worse editing choices with their collection of Hammmett's stories. The way it stands now, if you want every story Hammett wrote you must buy this book. It includes five stories that appear to be collected here for the first time. But, then you'll have to buy "Nightmare Town" and the "Big Knockover". Why did LOA do it this way? Why not omit the four stories already available in "Nightmare Town" amd replace them with the three that are missing from "The Big Knockover"? That way if you bought "Nightmare Town" you'd have the twelve remaining stories and you're collection is complete. If they were strapped for space they could omit the 58 page typescript for "'The Thin Man".
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Gabriel Valjan on October 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I purchased this volume to have Dash in one volume. He influenced Hemingway. Not the other way around. So said Gertrude Stein and I'm not inclined to argue with the lady. I've also read Richard Layman's Shadow Man and DH was both self-destructive and idealistic. The Hellman introductory essay in The Big Knockover is also worth reading. I do find it sad that Dash felt that he would not be remembered, not considered a "real writer" because he chose to write crime fiction, as opposed to high-brow literary fiction.
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