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Woman in the Dark Paperback – July 17, 1989
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Inside Flap
Originally published in 1933, Hammett's Woman in the Dark shows the author at the peak of his narrative powers. With an introduction by Robert B. Parker, the author of the celebrated Spenser novels.
Top Customer Reviews
A lovely young woman stumbles to a smalll house with an injured foot. It turns out the inhabitant of the house is Brazil, an ex-criminal who did time for killing a man in a brawl. A thug arrives to bring the girl, Luise, back to the man she is living with -- except Brazil punches him out. Now they're both in trouble... and in danger... and on the lam.
"Woman in the Dark" isn't a particularly thrilling thriller. Hammett's heart didn't seem to be in this tale; it's slow and wandering, and the grand showdown is somehow anticlimactic. What's more, it's very rushed -- it almost feels like Hammett scribbled it out with the intent of expanding it into a full-length novel.
Hammett's gritty, somewhat minimalist writing is a little awkward this time around. "One of the men pulled off his cap -- it was a gray tweed, matching his topcoat -- and..." is only one example of the unusually choppy style. But his sense of atmosphere is still unparalleled, with all the grime, grease and smoke of his urban backdrop.
The characterizations are sketchy at best. Brazil is much like Hammett's other anti-heroes, with a tough-guy attitude over some very intense feelings. Love interest Luisa is a walking paper doll, a typical exotic kept woman who falls for our anti-hero -- although it's never quite clear why they do fall in love.
"Woman in the Dark" is an unusually flat, sketchy novel by a classic mystery author. One of Hammett's few misfires, this is a curiosity but nothing worth getting excuted about.
Whatever the case, it's worth reading just because it's Hammett. It tells the story of a guy who got a bad rap the first time around, and just a few weeks after getting out of jail, he finds himself in danger of going back. There's a feeling of hopelessness here and the ending seems a bit ambiguous.
It's a good crime adventure short, but far from the best Hammett. It's still worth having in your collection.
Robert Parker wrote the `Introduction' to this story. It was published in April 1933 after Hammett wrote most of his novels. It shows Hammett's views of life as a sequence of random events which may affect anyone. [But for people life goes on, day after day, except for diversions like reading a novel. Only those whose life is filled with may events will find random events, some of which can be dangerous. Your opinion may vary.] Parker mentions "money and sex" as if they were not motivators for human behavior. I assume Hammett wrote this story to meet the editor's wishes. Did `Liberty' magazine have a style for stories? The success of "The Thin Man" means fame and fortune for Hammett, like someone who wins a lot of money in a lottery (or inheritance). What did he do with his spare time now that he was a celebrity? Think of "Nick Charles" after marrying a wealthy heiress.
A woman turned her ankle on a county road at night. A light led her to a small cottage. Luise Fischer wants to go to the railroad station, but must wait until morning. Two men arrive with a Great Dane, they want Luise to return with them to the house. She refuses. A telephone call warns Evelyn, she must leave. Conroy neutralized the dog. Brazil returned to deal with him and Robson. Later he learns bad news about Conroy. He and Luise travel to a new place to find shelter. Will the police arrive to take Luise back to Mile Valley? She asks to see her lawyer, she tells him what happened. She is released on bail. Later she visits the sanatorium where Brazil is recovering. Luise decides to return to Mile Valley. There is a scene in Conroys' bedroom, he is saved. There is an ending where Luise takes off her rings. Will there be a happy ennding?
This story tells about the life of powerful landowner and his effect on others in his town. A lone person can be helpless against him. Hammett's other short stories are much better.