- Mass Market Paperback
- Publisher: Permabooks (1961)
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0007EL0SU
- Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.2 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (175 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,342,611 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Red harvest Mass Market Paperback – 1961
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Mass Market Paperback
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"Killers of the Flower Moon" is a twisting, haunting true-life murder mystery about one of the most monstrous crimes in American history. See more
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From Library Journal
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 charactersDthe 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 personalityDmake 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. Recommended for all but the smallest public and academic libraries.DI. Pour-El, Des Moines Area Community Coll., Boone, IA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"An acknowledged literary landmark." --NY Times Book Review.
"Dashiell Hammett is an original. He is a master of the detective novel, yes, but also one hell of a writer." -- Boston Globe
"Hammett's prose [is] clean and entirely unique. His characters [are] as sharply and economically defined as any in American fiction."
--The New York Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The debut of the hard-boiled detective
The tough guy made his first appearance in Red Harvest, the first of Hammett’s five novels. Hammett is better known as the author of The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man, both of which are familiar to fans of classic films. But it was Red Harvest that Time magazine singled out, including the novel on its list of the 100 best English-language novels published between 1923 and 2005. Red Harvest was first published in book form in 1929, following its serialization in four parts in the mystery magazine Black Mask in 1928-29.
Hammett’s dated writing style
On reading nearly a century after its publication, the book comes across as distinctly dated. Hammett’s vernacular prose is grounded in the slang of the 1920s. The result is a style that seems as stilted as the over-precise diction of Victorian times. Here’s one character describing another minor figure in the story: “‘His real moniker is Al Kennedy. He was in on the Keystone Trust knock-over in Philly two years ago, when Scissors Haggerty’s mob croaked two messengers. Al didn’t do the killing, but he was in on the caper. He used to scrap around Philly. The rest of them got copped, but he made the sneak. That’s why he’s sticking out here in the bushes. That’s why he won’t never let them put his mug in the papers or on any cards. That’s why he’s a pork-and-beaner when he’s as good as the best. See? This Ike Bush is Al Kennedy that the Philly bulls want for the Keystone trick.'”
“Hard skin all over what’s left of my soul”
The nameless Continental op is an operative of the Continental Detective Agency, San Francisco branch, much as Hammett himself was a private investigator for the Pinkerton Detective Agency before he turned to full-time writing. He describes himself as “a fat, middle-aged, hard-boiled, pig-headed guy . . . I’ve got hard skin all over what’s left of my soul, and after twenty years of messing around with crime I can look at any sort of a murder without seeing anything in it but my bread and butter, the day’s work.”
A lot of blood on his hands
This is the cynical, hard-bitten investigator who turns up in the drab Western mining town of Personville. He’s been hired by the publisher and editor of the town’s newspapers. When he turns up that evening to meet the man, he learns that his client has just been murdered. The publisher’s murder turns out to be just the first of dozens of murders; Hammett stopped counting at 17. But it’s no coincidence that this murder epidemic erupts soon after the detective’s arrival in town. In fact, he proves to be the cause of most of them. A lot of blood is spilled in Red Harvest, and the investigator’s hands aren’t clean.
In the serialized format where the novel first appeared, it’s understandable that Hammett would find it necessary to keep the suspense and the violence coming throughout the book. However, for a 21st-century reader, the continuous drumbeat of murder can feel tedious. Red Harvest is pulp fiction, through and through. Thriller writers have come a long way since 1928.
I love Hammett's short stories about the gritty, no-frills detective known only as the "Continental Op." Hammett himself worked as an operative for the famous Pinkerton Detective Agency and his writing has an authenticity not seen before or since. In this case, the Op is sent to a mining town where a crusading newspaper editor is trying to expose corruption. But corruption never wants to be exposed and his client is dead before the first meeting.
It's the story of a ruthless mine-owner who subdues his workers (and their union) by bringing in gangsters. His hired guns now control City Hall as well as gambling and illegal liquor. The ageing tycoon finds that he's fallen out of the frying pan into the fire.
And then there's Dinah Brand. She's the kind of "gutsy broad" who was very popular in the 1920's. Tall, strong, and carelessly dressed, she's nobody's idea of a femme fatale. A two-fisted drinker and a bum cook, she's made her way in the world by forcefulness, greed, and audacity. She knows how to play both ends against the middle and she's the kind of gambler who either pulls off the big deals or dies trying.
This is a fascinating book from start to finish. If you think "noir" requires a big city locale, you need to get acquainted with Hammett. He knew that tough, ruthless men (and women) go where the money is. And sometimes it's in a little mountain town called "Poisonville."
The setting is curious to me. When you first start reading, you keep asking yourself why the Op stays in this corruptive village in the middle of nowhere. It's a mining town but it's filled with plenty of corruption. Everybody is corrupt even the narrator. The stories here were told in a serialized style for pulp fiction magazines for entertainment value.
Is there literary value in pulp fiction, you bet there is with Dashiell Hammett who was the king of pulp fiction of his time period. He was a troubled author with alcohol problems, health, and his own demons of war and experiences as a Pinkerton detective. He was really trying to redefine the mystery detective genre.
Unlike Sherlock Holmes, Jane Marple or Hercule Poirot, Op is unique in his voice. He's not necessarily evil nor good but shady and complicated. His character is never really defined nor do we do much about his character's history and background. He stays to clean up Personville.
True to style, Hammett's writing includes plenty of references to alcohol during the prohibition time period which this book was written in the first place. It was published in 1926 at the height of prohibition where alcohol consumption and distribution was largely forbidden. Well, corruption ran rampant anyway.
That's the morality tale here about corruption in a small town or any town over alcohol, power, money, etc. The characters here are thinly veiled and just mere caricatures of society's depiction of the time period. We don't feel sympathy towards anybody in this novel nor do we root for anybody even Op.
I was assigned to read this novel for my 20th Century American history class in college about the 1920s. At times, I struggled with all the murders, crimes, motives, and explanations regarding the novel. I do now understand a lot more about the 1920s. Personville seemed more like Poisonville after all with blood, poison, manipulation, lies, treachery, even in the small towns.