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Nightmare Town: Stories Paperback – September 12, 2000


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Nightmare Town: Stories + The Big Knockover: Selected Stories and Short Novels + The Continental Op
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (September 12, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375701028
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375701023
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #292,006 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Nightmare Town, with its crystalline prose as spare as Hammett himself, is a welcome treat." --The Baltimore Sun

"Hammett's work carries an authenticity and raw power that few writers, before or since, have been able to equal." --The San Diego Union-Tribune

"Hammett's legacy as a giant of crime fiction lives on. The stories are gritty and realistic, full of crisp, sparse dialogue. . . . Like the sting of whiskey as it goes down and the pungent smell of a strong cigar, Hammett's stories and characters don't fade quickly." --The Columbus Dispatch

From the Inside Flap

"Hammett's pioneering hard-boiled style has been much imitated, but the original--packs a wallop."--The New Yorker

Here are twenty long-unavailable stories by the master who brought us The Maltese Falcon. Laconic coppers, lowlifes, and mysterious women double- and triple-cross their colleagues with practiced nonchalance. A man on a bender awakens in a small town with a dark mystery at its heart. A woman confronts a brutal truth about her husband. Here is classic noir: hard-boiled descriptions to rival Hemingway, verbal exchanges punctuated with pistol shots and fisticuffs. Devilishly plotted, whip-smart, impassioned, Nightmare Town is a treasury of tales from America's poet laureate of the dispossessed.


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Customer Reviews

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It is easy to see how Hammett's craft evolved from these short stories evolved into his full length classic.
Leonard Fleisig
For those looking for more Dashiell Hammett short stories, Nightmare Town Stories is the best resource after you have read The Continental Op and The Big Knockover.
bearclawthedonut
This is an uneven collection; some storie are better than others as is natural in an anthology of an author's oeuvre.
C. M Mills

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Shadow Woman on October 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
Dashiell Hammett is The Man. He wrote with such realism and truth, he was so dead-on right in almost anything he said, and he managed to convey important lessons and wisdom, sometimes without you even realizing that you were retaining these valuable pieces of information. Nightmare Town, a collection of a variety of his short stories has a few brilliant selections, a few average ones, and yes, even a few not so good fictions. The title story is one of the strongest in the book, and the Continental Op stories-- my favourite ones in the book overall-- are above-average as well. Even the stories that aren't all that excellent usuallly do have a good punchline at the end-- contrary to what those not in the know believe, Dash Hammett did have a great sense of humour, and if you read carefully enough, you'll be amazed at the wit and irony you'll find. Even though this book doesn't do him the best justice and others are superior to it, this collection is great for the non-fan as well as the Hammett lovers. Bing, bang, boom-- 5 stars!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Leonard Fleisig VINE VOICE on August 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
echo through the twenty short stories and novellas by Dashiell Hammett contained in Nightmare Town.

Before turning to a full-time writing career, Hammett traveled around the country holding a series of different jobs. Most notably he spent considerable time as a detective for the Pinkerton Agency. He worked in Baltimore, San Francisco, and in mining towns throughout the American west. He was exposed to murderers, grifters, con artists, graft, violent union-busting by the Pinkertons (which he abhorred and which help turn him into a lifelong radical) and corporate and governmental corruption. He made friends with other hardboiled detectives and saw first hand how life was on the dark side of town. He drank in bars that served `hard drinks for hard men. These experiences suffused Hammett's writings and the ultra-realistic atmosphere he created lifted almost single-handedly the detective genre from parlor room mysteries to the very real, very gritty streets of the country.

Although best known as the author of such detective classics as The Thin Man, The Maltese Falcon, and The Glass Key, Hammett wrote almost one hundred stories in a twelve-year period from 1922 to 1934 for pulp detective magazines such as Black Mask, True Detective Stories, and Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. Many of the stories in Nightmare Town have not been seen in print since their original publication. Some of the stories are rough around the edges but they are all terse and well-written. It is easy to see how Hammett's craft evolved from these short stories evolved into his full length classic.

The title story, "Nightmare Town", is a barn-burner. Steve Threefall awakens from a drunken bender in a small-town jail on the California-Nevada border. The town is violent and corrupt.
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Format: Paperback
Nightmare Town and other stories presents twenty noir classic tales by Dashiell Hammett. Many of the stories were out of print until 1999 when this superb collection was published by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard Company.
Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961) is along with Raymond Chandler and James M. Cain one of the masters of the noir hardboiled school of detective fiction which emerged into prominence in the 1920's and 1930's. Hammett is best known for such classic novels as "The Maltese Falcon"; "Red Harvest': "The Glass Key" and "The Thin Man".
Nightmare Town and other stories is a good introduction to Hammett and his world of double dealing, thieving and murderous low life types. The stories are violent and brutal. The best stories in this collection are:
Nightmare Town: The secrets of a corrupt town are revealed as detective Steve Threefall finds murder, corruption and a love affair in a tough California town.
House Dick-murder A murder in a hotel room is solved by the house detective.
His Brother's Keeper-A dumb boxer tells the story of his murdered brother and a life of hard knocks on the fight circuit.
Hammett is good in his use of slang among members of the underworld.
the Second-Story Angel-A sexy girl thief falls into the window of Carter Brigham a crime writer.
Too Many Have Lived- A San Francisco poet is murdered.
A Man Named Thin and The First Thin Man-Hammett used these early tales as prelimnary sketches to his famous "The Thin Man" novel. Nick and Nora Charles do not appear in the stories.
Famous Hammett detective Sam Spade of San Francisco appears in a "Man Called Spade" and two other stories in this book.
Also appearing are the Continetal Op Detective.
This is an uneven collection; some storie are better than others as is natural in an anthology of an author's oeuvre. The stories are complicated and contain several characters. An enjoyable read!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By S. P. Graham on February 8, 2009
Format: Paperback
I'm giving this book three stars because, in my view, Hammett's writing is always superb. However, a strong caveat - the Amazon review system does not clearly distinguish between various editions of this work. I was looking forward to reading the Sam Spade short stories, and early versions of the Thin Man so you can imagine my disappointment (and returning books from NZ is a hassle) that the edition I purchased (the Boomer Books effort) contains none of those items.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Symbolic on February 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
The Black Mask publishings and novels of Dashiell Hammett are the genesis of noir fiction. However, as Dashiell Hammett was in fact a private eye, he has a credibility and a realism not found in other Noir. The origin of his writing was in paperwork on his missions as a private detective. As for this particular collection, the title story opens with the proverbial bang. The character of this story with his drunken ride through the southwest and use of a cane as a weapon is vastly unique, entertaining, and fun. One can see the unique quality of the work that only a man of Hammett's past and originality could write.
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