Red Harvest

Red Harvest[Read] ➵ Red Harvest ➼ Dashiell Hammett – When the last honest citizen of Poisonville was murdered the Continental Op stayed on to punish the guilty even if that meant taking on an entire town Red Harvest is than a superb crime novel it is a When the last honest citizen of Poisonville was murdered the Continental Op stayed on to punish the guilty even if that meant taking on an entire town Red Harvest is than a superb crime novel it is a classic exploration of corruption and violence in the American grain. I’ll give you three good reasons—from least to most—why you should read Red Harvest 1 it made possible the fine Leone film A Fistful of Dollars 2 it inspired the Kurosawa masterpiece Iojimbo which influenced A Fistful of Dollars and 3 it is an old school hard boiled hardcore novel with a detective as tough as Spade Marlowe and Hammer put together written in hard as nails prose and set in a small West Coast city a city with a heart of stoneThe City is Personville and people call it “Poisonville” but not because they are speaking with an accent A few years before the book opens mining tycoon and city boss Elihu Wilsson called in some thugs and goons to break a mining strike Oh they broke it alright but now these gangsters—with names like Lew Yard “Whispers” Pete the Finn—have carved Elihu’s little city into fiefdoms and Boss Wilsson is not the boss any Our detective the nameless “Continental Op” employed by the Continental Detective Agency—soon begins systematically destroying the rival gangs by sowing lies and discord among them Sure there is a murder the Op has to solve but soon in addition we have stabbings ambushes furtive late night shootings and afternoon gun battles And a good looking but slatternly gold digger too Everything a reader could wantAt least you’d think so wouldn’t you and it would be enough for your average hard boiled novel But three uarters of the way through the Op begins to realize he likes all this killing and after drinking too many laudanum and gins and dreaming some stone crazy dope head dreams he wakes up to find a bloody ice pick in his hand Now the Op has one last murder to solve and he can't exclude himself as a suspect Red Harvest 1927 is certainly a genre classic but it is also a great book on any terms The prose is spare the metaphors are crisp and although the narrative is often crowded with incident the plot remains simple and clear and close to the bone The review is updated yet again on January 20 2020 “I first heard Personville called Poisonville by a red haired mucker named Hickey Dewey in the Big Ship in Butte He also called his shirt a shoit I didn't think anything of what he had done to the city's name Later I heard men who could manage their r's give it the same pronunciation I still didn't see anything in it but the meaningless sort of humor that used to make richardsnary the thieves' word for dictionary A few years later I went to Personville and learned better” Welcome to Poisonville I mean Personville population 40000 The local policemen are very friendly and truly enjoy doing their job The first policeman I saw needed a shave The second had a couple of buttons off his shabby uniform The third stood in the center of the city’s main intersection — Broadway and Union Street — directed traffic with a cigar in one corner of his mouth After that I stopped checking them up All the people are very eager to help during a murder investigation 'Who shot him’ I askedThe grey man scratched the back of his neck and said ‘Somebody with a gun’ You really cannot get any helpful than this If you ever get in legal trouble there is always a very competent and affordable lawyer available He's the guy that the joke was wrote about Is he a criminal lawyer? Yes very Of all classic hard boiled novels this one has a record of having maximum number of dead bodies per page To give an idea one of the chapters in about two thirds of the book is titled Seventeenth Murder; after this one the killings were done wholesale and I lost count at about twentieth morgue visitor A nameless narrator from Continental detective agency is invited to a city for corruption investigation by the city tycoon's son Unfortunately by the time the MC arrives his potential employer is already killed It does not take a genius to realize the city is rules by criminals with the entire police department being on their payroll and chief of the department being a member of criminal gang reminds me of my humble metropolis now So does it mean the end of the mission for the MC? Not in the least He bullied the father of the victim to hire him to rid the city from criminals What is the best way to do it without outside help? Turn them on each other This is where the bodies start piling up Double crossings back stabbings military type operations of one gang against the other and a single guy trying to just stay alive after kicking the hornet's nest – repeatedly when things slow downNot a single person in the book appears to be nice including the main character The guy scares himself when he realized he began enjoying putting bad guys against each other and watching the resulting fireworks He admits that this way of cleaning the city is much easier and probably effective than the legal one “This damned burg's getting me If I don't get away soon I'll be going blood simple like the natives” This novel is my ultimate cure for a book hangover I read it bazillion times and it have never failed me It also never became boring It is the reason I am a fan of classic noir mysteries It is the reason I put Dashiel Hammett in the list of the best world mystery writers of all time It is the reason I do not like modern thrillers most of them assume the reader and the main characters are retarded while Dashiel Hammett assumed relatively smart people read his works During every reread I find something new This time I was able to uote some of the passages from memory and for this reason was not in a big rush to learn what happens next big rush or no I was able to read it in less than a day I finally found time to draw breath and look around so to speak I was impressed with Hammett's prose It was not as artistic as Chandler's this guy created pure art in his novels but they were precise to the point and ooze style refer to countless uotes I included As you can guess this is non stop action with not a single page being boring no matter how many times you read it a wild roller coaster ride 6 stars I only have one uestion remaining where the heck is The Continental Op when you need him?PS My fellow Canadians you are in luck Project Gutenberg Canada has this book for a free download If you have even passing interest in classic noir mysteries there is no reason for you not to drop everything you are doing get the book and start reading it yesterday Originally published in 1929 Red Harvest is a classic crime novel that helped established the hard boiled genre This is most definitely not a polite parlor mystery where most of the blood is spilled off of the page As the title suggests this book is filled with mayhem and the bodies are falling left and rightThe main protagonist is the Continental Op who doesn't remotely resemble the genteel Hercule Poirot or any of the other fictional detectives who were so popular in the 1920s The Op is certainly smart and skilled but he's a suat overweight man who's than willing to cut whatever corners are necessary in order to achieve what he believes to be the greater goodThe Op who is employed by the Continental Detective Agency in San Francisco is detailed to the Personville a mining town known to most as Poisonville The town was for a long time under the thumb of Elihu Willsson who owned the Personville Mining Corporation the local newspapers and a number of other businesses as well He also controlled all of the politicians of any conseuence up to and including the state governorDuring the First World War Willsson had made whatever deals were necessary with the miners' unions to ensure that the company's operations were unimpeded But once the war ended he determined to break the unions and in doing so invited in a number of thugs and crooks to assist him The unions were effectively cowed but the thugs and crooks stayed in town and carved out interests for themselves effectively reducing Willsson's authority As the book opens Elihu's son Donald has asked the Continental Detective Agency for assistance Elihu has now turned the town's newspapers over to his son and the son is something of a reformer But before the Op can even meet with Donald Donald is murdered The Op believes that it is his obligation to identify the killer As he attempts to do so old Elihu Willsson offers the Op 1000000 to clean up Personville In reality he wants to get rid of the gangs that are competing for control of the town so that he can dominate it unchallenged once againThe Op is repulsed by the level of corruption in the town and by Elihu himself But he decides to take the job so that he can indulge his own desire to clean up the town and cleverly drafts his agreement with Willsson to effectively give himself carte blanche even if Willsson should ultimately change his mind about turning the Op loose on the problemThe plot that unfolds is dense and convoluted but the strength of the book lies in Hammett's prose style in the characters he develops and in picture he paints of Personville As a practical matter there is not a single moral selfless person in the entire town the Continental Op included He uickly proves that he's ready to get down in the muck with the croooks grafters and corrupt city officials and do whatever is necessary to complete the uest he's assigned himselfAs a young man Hammett had worked as a detective for the Pinkerton agency in San Francisco and had spent some time during the war in the mining town of Butte Montana as a strikebreaker People have long speculated that Poisonville was modeled on Butte a company town controlled by the Anaconda Mining Company People have also speculated about Hammett's motives for writing the book suggesting that he might have been seeking some redemption for the actions he had taken in Butte Whatever the case the result is a seminal work that stands as one of the great classics of American crime fiction and that has influenced scores of writers who have attempted to follow in Hammett's footsteps 664 Red Harvest Dashiell HammettThe Continental Op is called to Personville by the newspaper publisher Donald Willsson who is murdered before the Op has a chance to meet with him The Op begins to investigate Willsson's murder and meets with Willsson's father Elihu Willsson a local industrialist who has found his control of the city threatened by several competing gangs Elihu had originally invited those gangs into Personville to help him impose and then enforce the end of a labor disputeIn the meantime the Op is spending time with Dinah Brand a possible love interest of the late Donald Willsson and a moll for Max Whisper Thaler a local gangster Using information from Brand and Personville's crooked chief of police Noonan the Op manages to extract and spread incriminating information to all of the warring parties When the Op reveals that a bank robbery was staged by the cops and one of the mobs to discredit another mob a gang war eruptsThe Op wakes up the next morning though to find Brand stabbed to death with the ice pick the Op handled the previous evening No signs of forced entry are visible The Op becomes a suspect sought by the police for Brand's murder and one of his fellow operatives Dick Foley leaves Personville because he is uncertain of the Op's innocence خرمن سرخ داشیل همت روزنه‌کار ادبیات پلیسی؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش روز بیست و چهارم ماه دسامبر سال 2004میلادیعنوان خرمن سرخ؛ نویسنده داشیل همت؛ مترجم فرهاد منشوری؛ تهران، روزنه‌ کار، 1381؛ در 264ص؛ شابک 9646728219؛ چاپ دیگر مشهد، ترانه، 1389؛ در 327ص؛ از مجموعه لبه تاریکی سه؛ شابک 9789645638623؛ موضوع داستانهای پلیسی از نویسندگان امریکایی سده 20مداستان «خرمن سرخ» درباره رخدادهایی ست، که در شهر «پرسن ویل»، یا به نگارش نویسنده، در «پویزن ویل» رخ می‌دهند، که همان «شهر فاسد» رمان‌های سیاه است؛ شهر در دست گروه‌های گانگستر، اراذل و اوباش یک قمارخانه، رییس پلیس فاسد، و یک سیاستمدار پوسیده است؛ ماجرا از اینقرار است، که کارآگاهی، به دعوت مدیر روزنامه ی شهر، که پسر همان سیاستمدار یاد شده است، وارد شهر می‌شود، کارآگاه ضمن تماس با خانواده مدیر روزنامه، درمی‌یابد که برای مدیر روزنامه اتفاقی افتاده است؛ از این به بعد کارآگاه، درگیر ماجراهایی می‌شود، که رخدادهای اصلی داستان را شکل می‌دهد، که رویارویی با افراد شرور و بدکار، آنهاییکه در پی به دست گرفتن قدرت در شهر هستند، میشودا شربیانی Published in 1929 Red Harvest is the first of five classic novels written by Dashiell Hammett inventor of the hard boiled school of fiction Since there are dozens of reviews already posted here I will take a different slant citing how uotes from nineteenth century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche apply to the novel’s unnamed main characternarrator a man simply known as Continental Op and the city where the novel is located Personville aka Poisonville a dingy mining city of 40000 sueezed between two Northern California mountains“Without music life would be a mistake”There isn’t one reference to music in the entire novel Not surprising since from the perspective of music and the arts this grimy berg run by gangsters bootleggers crooked cops and gritty thugs could be considered one colossal mistake Of course I’m not entirely serious but imagining a Personville String uartet playing an evening of Mozart at the town’s public building would be belly laughable Not laughable that is for the townspeople who would probably protest such music by riddling the musicians with bullets after playing the first few bars of their Mozart“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how”The Continental Op is a private detective for a national agency; he’s insulted double crossed and has to listen to the lies and cons from the city’s sleazy power boys as well as dodge unending gunfire All in a day’s work as he goes about seeking revenge for being set up to be bumped off by Noonan the fat chief of police Such a ‘why ‘and ‘how’ is the stuff of Hammett’s riveting story“The best enemy against an enemy is another enemy”This Nietzsche uote could have been used by Hammett as the novel’s epigraph The Continental Op sets gangsters bootleggers professional thieves police and politicians all against one another The result? Too many dead bodies to count With dozens and dozens of murders Red Harvest ualifies as a 200 page blood bath But please don’t be put off by all the blood; fortunately for lovers of great literature this is great literature Always good to keep in mind many works of great literature for example The Iliad and Richard III are chock full of blood“Ah women They make the highs higher and the lows freuent”Meet Poinsonville’s femme fatale Dinah Brand If you are a man and would like to pick lead out of your belly hang around Dinah Here is the Continental Op’s reflections on meeting Ms Brand for the first time “She was an inch or two taller than I which made her about five feet eight She had a broad shouldered full breasted round hipped body and big muscular legs The hand she gave me was soft warm strong Her face was the face of a girl of twenty five already showing signs of wear Little lines crossed the corners of her big ripe mouth Fainter lines were beginning to make nets around her thick lashed eyes They were large eyes blue and a bit blood shot Her coarse hair brown needed trimming and was parted crookedly One side of her upper lip had been rouged higher than the other Her dress was of a particularly unbecoming wine color and it gaped here and there down one side where she had neglected to snap the fasteners or they had popped open There was a run down the front of her left stocking”He who fights with monsters must take care lest he thereby become a monster”Here is a uote from the Continental Op after taking the necessary steps in starting to clean up the city for his double crossing client old Elihu Willsson Look I sat at Willsson's table tonight and played them like you'd play trout and got just as much fun out of it I looked at Noonan and knew he hadn't a chance in a thousand of living another day because of what I had done to him and I laughed and felt warm and happy inside That's not me 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 But this getting a rear out of planning deaths is not natural to me It's what this place has done to me The Continental Op knows the truth of Nietzsche’s words from his own first hand experience“Of all that is written I love only what a person has written with his own blood”Dashiell Hammett spent some years with the Pinkerton agency as a detective He had his first hand Poisonville like experience in Butte Montana where he probably had occasion to see his own blood flow in the line of service So if there ever was a book that could have been written with the author’s own blood Red Harvest is that book uestion How to induce a gushing mind blowing noirgasm? Answer Have your amoral no nonsense no name main character bust out with slick cool dripping phrases like I poured out a couple of hookers of gin while She went into the kitchen for another siphon and iceFriends if there’s a unit of measurement loaded with juicy uintessential noirness than “a hooker of gin” please let me know because I spent my entire happy wad when I read that No offense to fans of Raymond Chandler who I think is terrific but after The Maltese Falcon and now this gem Dashiell Hammett has super glued himself atop my pyramid of classic crime noir authors This is noir at its grittiest and most violent with characters that are all shades of shady and murders than Nightmare on Elm Street Halloween and Friday the 13thcombined Add to that an ever constant flow of so much booze swilling that the alcohol seems to sweat off the page and you have a dark gritty and spectacular slice of crime literature Seriously the only thing getting killed faster than people is the liuorand the last vestiges of my faith in decency and humanity PLOT SUMMARY Our narrator known only as The Continental Op is sent by his employer the San Francisco branch of the Continental Detective Agency CDA to a company town called Personville aka Poisonville The CDA was hired by Donald Willsson to investigate corruption in the town but is given a lethal hot lead injection before our man has a chance to get the details From there the Op begins investigating the murder and runs across a whole host of people with cemeteries full of skeleton’s in their closets including The deceased’s father who founded Poisonville and has seen his control threatened by several gangs his originally brought in to break a labor strikeDinah Brand a hard drinking and harder loving femme fatale twisted than a corkscrew and just as sharpA host of local gangsters and thugs led by Max Whisper Thaler A fat sweaty stereotype of the crooked chief of police that reminded me of the guy from the movie Mississippi Burning great flick by the way As the body count rises The Continental Op manages to pit all of the bad guys against one another creating a powder keg that bill blow the lid of the town and bring all the rats scurrying out of the dark THOUGHTS If you like noir crime novels it’s hard for me to imagine you wouldn’t like this This is noir at its most filthy and you can feel the wet slimy villainy staining each and every page as Hammett’s sparse clipped prose is deftly navigates the story My only ualm with the narrative is probably my own failing as a reader This is the most complicated crime mystery plot I have come across and the total number of players and victims the myriad of double triple and uadruple crosses and the extremely convoluted central mystery was at times hard to keep straight in my itty bitty brain To make matters worse Hammett provides no training wheels in the form of info dumps or recaps to help the reader so you are pretty much stranded and on your own Just like his narrator Thus my strong 45 star rating for this rather than 5 stars is based solely on my inability to completely follow the trail of sleaze from beginning to end I intend to re read this at some point and if all of the pieces end up falling into place this may well get bumped to 5 stars and receive an engraved apology for my lack of plot comprehension As it is this is about as good as it gets when it comes to noir and Hammett has created another superb work that reads as well now as it did back in 1929 That says a lot for the man’s talent Here are a couple of classic uotes that I thought were just full of awesome Be still while I get up or I'll make an opening in your head for brains to leak in If I don't get away soon I'll be going blood simple like the natives says the Op I've arranged a killing or two in my time when they were necessary But this is the first time I've ever got the fever spoiler tried to assassinate me last night I don’t like it I’m just mean enough to want to ruin him for it Now I’m going to have my fun I’ve got ten thousand dollars of your money to play with I’m going to use it opening Poisonville up from Adam's apple to ankles” We bumped over dead Spoiler legs and headed for home We covered one block of the distance with safety if not comfort After that we had neitherIt’s enough to bring out the O face 45 stars HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION PS I listened to the recently released audio version of this story as read by Richard Ferrone and I thought he did a very good job with it Certainly one to check out if you like audio books An operative from the Continental Detective Agency is summoned to Personville aka Poisonville by a crusading newspaper publisher but the man is murdered before the Continental Op can meet with him The Op uickly learns that Poisonville has a crime problem that would make Gotham City seem like Topeka by comparison After getting a look at its seedy underbelly the Op browbeats the dead publisher’s wealthy father into paying him to clean up the town even though he’s a big part of the problemThe Op starts working angles playing criminals and crooked cops and every corrupt person he runs across against each other Bodies start dropping and warfare between various factions looms as everyone is looking to move up the food chain The Op exploits this in every way he can but the increasing carnage starts to take a toll on him as he fears that he’s becoming as bad as the people he’s up against“This damned burg’s getting to me If I don’t get away soon I’ll be going blood simple like the natives” Hammett was obviously doing something over the top here with a town where murder is seen as the first and best solution to almost every problem While it’s got that pulpy kind of story Hammett was also drawing on his experience as a former Pinkerton agent to paint in some of the details and give it just enough gritty reality to make it seem plausible The plot he cooks up about a tough guy trying to bring down a corrupt town by playing sides against each other was hugely influential in crime fiction and in the movies There’s also a line you have to admire on just about every pageI don’t think this uite measure up to The Maltese Falcon but this violent tale about one man trying to clean out a corrupt city earns it’s reputation as one of the best of the genre for a reason You can read about how Red Harvest has inspired many movies in this Salon article I've always been the dissenting opinion on this one Yeah it was influential but since Hammett himself was copying John Carroll Daly's new hardboiled style maybe we should give him a bit of the credit Cynical and definitely hardboiled Hammett’s Red Harvest is missing the one ingredient which might have made it work for me — Raymond Chandler Compare this to Raymond Chandler’s first novel The Big Sleep Both novels have elements cannibalized from their respective pulp stories both have bodies dropping left and right and both are terribly convoluted Yet Red Harvest comes off as simply a dark and unpleasant tale of corruption and violence while The Big Sleep is wildly entertaining almost dream like There is nowhere to lay the blame except at Hammett’s doorstepChandler could turn a simple phrase into visual magic Hammett often took a circuitous route as though in love with his own literary voice In Red Harvest we get all kinds of lengthy descriptive detours which bogs down any narrative pace whatsoever And by narrative pace I mean the next body dropping It almost feels when you go back and read this one after many years that this might have been a better tale had Hammett not chosen to insert his Continental Op from the pulps even though it's a string of Op stories strung together Instead Hammett could have turned this into a noir melodrama an unsuspecting stranger encountering the town and getting twisted up in its corruption Hardboiled doesn't have to be this bloody and what's worse we don't really care about the people dropping left and right can't even keep track of all the playersHammett subtly uses PersonvillePoisonville as a metaphor for all of America painting it as corrupt and violent at its core and crime laden due to the “evils” of capitalism There are plenty of rather uiet and vague marxist underpinnings to the serpentine goings on in the corrupt town which Hammett based on his own experiences in Montana during a miner’s strike This would be neither here nor there if this were a good story like The Glass Key or delightful fun like his The Thin Man but it’s just an unpleasant messPerhaps because Hammett himself hadn’t yet distanced himself from the pulps this comes off as an ambiguous hodgepodge of some wonderfully written moments and some that go on much too long Even the metaphor angle is ambivalent as Hammett doesn’t proffer any alternatives If the left leaning Hammett had an argument to make he chose not to make it leaving us with only the violence and ugliness and a tepid underpinningRed Harvest is certainly bloody enough for a hardboiled detective novel — the Op takes a body count while talking with Dinah Brand before an ice pick finds her and it’s staggering — and there are flashes of good writing — really good writing — but the convoluted plot isn’t offset by an entertaining enough narrative to rank this one as high as Hammett’s better stuffI truly believe if this had been handed in outline form to Raymond Chandler after a few stiff drinks he’d have made this so readable and entertaining we wouldn’t care about its underpinnings or its flaws In Hammett’s hands at least at this point in his career this is a herky jerky ride There is some good stuff here even great stuff but it isn’t put together well enough to make it a great read for this reader or in my opinion the average reader unfamiliar with the genre For me Red Harvest is a reminder why I’ve always preferred Chandler to Hammett ”Discovering pulp fiction now right now is a bit like finding a lost treasure You are unearthing something that will entertain enlighten amuse horrify mangle jangle keep you riveted Decades after they were written these stories still manage to have an edge” Harlan CobenI'm in heaven Well maybe not literallybut certainly in a literary sense I've discovered pulp fiction I am excited Deliriously so I've• secured a couple of telephone directory sized compendiums of hardboiled and pulp noir The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps and The Black Lizard Big Book of Black Mask Stories • made great progress in the collection of the Hard Case Crime Series• been introduced to my first John D Macdonald ‘Travis McGee’ novelANDthe pièce de résistance• just read my first Dashiell Hammett novel What a revelationThe writers who really have never read pulp fiction are writers the rest of us do not associate with They have poor self esteem They had a troubled home life They are not fun at parties Harlan CobenHellI don't want to be one of those readers either I'm confident Had a good upbringing Like fun Like parties Like having fun at parties I want in COUNT ME INIn the ‘20s ‘30s ‘40s early ‘50s the biggest names in the crime fiction pulp world were all published by Black Mask and other major pulp publications; Chandler Daly Gardner Hammett McCoy Nebel Whitfield to name but a few It is said that Hammett was and remains the “gold standard” for hardboiled crime fiction Fittingly although not known at the time of my choosing my first Hammett was in fact Hammett's first novel Red Harvest It first appeared in Black Mask serialized over four issues spanning October 1927 to January 1928 Hammett reworked it somewhat for hardback publication in February 1929 It could best be described as an extraordinary tale of gunmen gin and gangstersIn Red Harvest Hammett introduces the reader to a private investigator PI an unnamed Operative Op from the Continental Detective Agency San Francisco branch The Op finds himself in a corrupt Montana town named Personville which is sardonically referred to by the locals as “Poisonville” where there’s a power struggle among contending factions Virtually all of them the hoods the lawmen the lowlifes the local grandees are lying and corrupt Essentially we have a literary image of the United States as a violent greedy power hungry society The main villains are wealthy influential people who use thugs to defend their often ill gotten wealth and the power derived from itThe Op a short heavy set overweight often a little drunk is no movie star He’s a hero all the same a man on his own maneuvering among the crocodiles freuently with fists and firepower always with a brutal and amusing efficiencyThere are some great reviews on Goodreads that discuss the plot further; three are included belowKemper's review James' review Algernon's review What I personally liked about this novel was the wonderful characterization of the Op the complexity of the story the history of the time period and the obvious intelligence insight and wit of Hammett There's both irony and comedy in the humor We bumped over dead Hank O'Meara's legs and headed for home We covered one block of the distance with safety if not comfort After that we had neither Be still while I get up or I'll make an opening in your head for brains to leak in 'Who shot him’ I askedThe grey man scratched the back of his neck and said ‘Somebody with a gun’” Hammett was one of the few writers of PI fiction who had actual experience as a private detective having worked for the famous Pinkerton AgencyEdge That might be the key for me These stories still cut still tear still even shock a bit These guys experimented They wrote on the move They went places maybe they shouldn't have and we love them for itI like edge I like it a lot I think you will too Harlan CobenYes Harlan I sure do Red Harvest is a pulp classic that fires from the first page to the last If you're a Noir devotee or have yet to read the genre Red Harvest is an essential novel ★ ★ ★ ★ 12“The reader knows a great deal He has taste and wisdom or he wouldn’t be reading” John D MacDonaldI often think about the uote above and how much has changed since JDM wrote those words in the 1974 The wisdom part is still true If nothing else constant reading grows vocabularies Today’s readers however have come of age in an environment that in some ways restricts the use of literary intelligence An example of this can be found in the lack of respect often accorded the acknowledged forefathers of the hardboiled detective novel Dashiell Hammett Raymond Chandler and Ross MacDonald Intelligence alone can and should easily recognize that what is now clichéd and overused was once new and original Unfortunately the modern reader regularly fails make such simple leaps of logic Technology has curtailed such thoughts from even occurring The future is now in our hands and filling our senses daily and its byproduct is a blurring of the past Nowadays readers are apt to believe in alien worlds and mystic realms than a reality without cell phones and computersChandler comes off the best of the three which is not surprising considering that at its core his work was about a moral man awash in a sea of immorality It’s a universal concept And yet the modern reader still cannot get past the occasional prejudices that show up in his work perhaps abetted by the first person narrative Themselves awash in a Twitter world of instant outrage and pile on indignation they fail to comprehend that they are being given a portal through time and instant access to an era where such attitudes were common Instead recognizing the opportunity for what it is they mutter “racist crap” and toss the book aside and thus cheat themselves of the chance to appreciate societal evolution while being entertained in the processRoss Macdonald takes his hits from a different uarter Once considered the most literate practitioner of his genre he has since given way to the likes of James Lee Burke and Joseph Hanson and Walter Mosley among others To those used to authors who paint with a broad brush the economical yet lyrical use of words employed by MacDonald is lost The art of subtly has lapsed and with it appreciation for such This applies to his lead character as well Lew Archer does not act like the protagonist of a novel He acts like a private detective which is what he is supposed to be He becomes involved in a situation talks to those people learns of others goes and talks to them learns of and continues to do this until there is a clear picture There is no angst and little confrontation just the exploration of lives and living And when there is an altercation even at the conclusion it is never drawn out It is as abrupt and as resolute as the story reuires Conditioned by today’s world of thrillers and psychological suspense readers have come to expect melodrama When it is not found they become frustrated as they continue to turn pages searching for something that was never meant to be there and they miss the point of a Ross MacDonald novel poignancy has been layered into the narrative in a way that allows its resonance to be felt alongside the solution of the case Because it is intentionally understated the modern reader has been conditioned to miss itHammett takes the biggest hit of the three essentially because the pulps from which he sprang never left his work Long before his novels helped co opt the term to describe this style of storytelling noir dripped from his every word The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man appropriately are noir detective stories but Hammett’s delivery masks to some Sam Spade’s complexity and Nick Charles’ underlying sadness The Glass Key is a noir power struggle Woman in the Dark is an attempt at noir romance which ultimately fails because the finale reads as if it were lifted from a different novel by a different author Red Harvest is a noir adventure and its pace almost never lagsThe man dubbed “The Continental Op” the original nameless private detective arrives in an industrial town nicknamed Poisonville and promptly has his client murdered before he can meet him face to face Donald Wilsson who grew up abroad had returned home to take charge of the local newspaper a position that carried considerable power in the late 1920s A reformer he decided outside help was needed once he learned that his father owner of much of the town including the paper was deeply seated in the corruption Along with a crooked police chief and strikebreakers brought in almost ten years earlier who had since imbedded themselves in the city Poisonville was essentially run by criminals who had neatly but peacefully divided up its felonious pie Once the Op convinces the old robber baron that that his son was murder by one of his allies he is commissioned to clean them all out of townThe bulk of the novel shows the Op befriending most of the principal criminals and turning them against each other As befitting a noir adventure the bodies pile up uick But because Hammett was once a detective before becoming an author even in an adventure he had to have the Op actually solve something And so he does Three separate mysteries are presented and explained all without a loss of momentum And almost as if to prove that The Op is not infallible he also misses one near the end That’s not a detriment The only real detriment is a digression involving a shady lawyer that was nothing than a stepping stone to the next important story beat It could have and should have been bypassed One small misstep is not enough to mar Hammett’s first masterpiece Red Harvest is too strong a work for that One part the pulps keep things moving keep things entertaining and one part the author inimitable style a style that would help influence an entire genre of movies a decade or so later and all it takes to enjoy this book is being open to the sensibilities of a bygone era It sounds simple But with each passing day that seems to be asking too much If you are open if can allow yourself to swept away a classic of the genre awaits If you can’t then Red Harvest will become another valuable piece of the past left behind by the march of time I’m hoping for the former

Ebook  ô Red Harvest MOBI ¿
  • ebook
  • 224 pages
  • Red Harvest
  • Dashiell Hammett
  • English
  • 11 July 2016
  • 9780752852614