Re your question below:
"Who in Hammett does good deeds? Everyone I can think of was
just doing his job -- sure, some good might come from it, but
it was for a paycheck, not for goodness sake."
The Continental Op is certainly more concerned with doing the
job than doing the right thing, but he's concerned with doing
the job BECAUSE he thinks it's the right thing. Like Matt
Helm, he's an idealistic pragmatist.
As for when the Op does good deeds, which I interpret to mean
acts of compassion that he does for compassionate, rather
than practical, reasons, two come to mind immediately.
In "The Scorched Face," the Op convinces his cop buddy,
rookie SFPD Detective Pat Reddy, to burn all the blackmail
material they've uncovered. Reddy, being kind of a
straight-arrow, baulks at destroying evidence, but finally
lets the Op convince him. It turns out that one of the photos
is of Reddy's wife, and the Op was trying to preserve the
happiness of the newlywed couple.
In THE DAIN CURSE, the Op cures Gabrielle of drug addiction,
not because he really needs to in order to do his job, but
only because he's come to care for her.
That's just off the top of my head, but I'd be surprised if
there aren't other examples.
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