>>Of course, there's Hammett and Chandler, who wrote a lot fewer books, but never wrote a bad one.<<
Well, just to quibble a bit, I think even hardcore Chandler fans would concede that Playback is not a good book and I've seen some folks (not me) who thought Little Sister or High Window were stinkers too. As to Hammett,I hate to say a bad word but you can really see the seams in The Dain Curse. Not a "Big Knockover" fan either.
With the exception of Chandler, all of these guys wrote with just unbelievable speed during their best years. Sometimes it shows.
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