Re: RARA-AVIS: New Hammett?
24 Jun 99 09:21:00 -0400

     Re Ckottos Nikolai's recent post:

     "'The Op is usually described as fat, forty, and nameless. Suppose we
     told you that all three adjectives are incorrect. The Continental Op
     is not fat, is not forty, and is not nameless! The truth will be
     divulged later--in the fifth collection.' The fifth collection was, of
     course, the infamous _Dead Yellow Women_. I don't own it, though I
     imagine one or two of you reading this may possess a copy. I suspect
     the above passage was more of a tease than anything else. . ."
     *Dead Yellow Women* included "Who Killed Bob Teal?" which was rejected
     by *Black Mask* and published as a fact-crime article in *True
     Detective*. All Hammett did to convert the story from fiction to
     "fact" was to add a paragraph to the beginning of the story, similar
     to the opening of a *Dragnet* episode. Something along the lines of
     "The city and detetive agency in real life had different names than
     the ones I've given them here. Those familiar with the case will know
     that I have kept the facts straight." The story, as it appeared in
     *True Detective* was byl-lined "Dashiell Hammett of the Continental
     Detective Agency." In Queen's introduction to the "Who Killed Bob
     Teal?" in the *Dead Yellow Women* collection, he noted that the Op
     was, to some degree, based on James Wright, Hammett's first boss in
     the Pinkerton agency. However, from the by-line in the original
     magazine publication, Queen concluded that the Op was really Hammett
     himself. Hammett was anything but fat, as we all know. Neither was
     he nameless. If memory serves, that collection also contained one of
     the earliest Op stories, in which the op states that he's been a
     detective for about fifteen years, and first joined Continental when
     he was twenty. Crunch the numbers and he comes out 35 rather than 40.
      Queen pointed that out in the introduction to that early story.
     Hence the three most remembered characteristics of the Op, fat, 40,
     and nameless, were debunked. - Jim Doherty

# To unsubscribe, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to # To unsubscribe, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
# The web pages for the list are at

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0b3 on Thu 24 Jun 1999 - 11:28:01 EDT