RARA-AVIS: Hammett's Woman in the Dark

ejm duggan (ejmd@cwcom.net)
Mon, 30 Aug 1999 12:56:48 +0000

On Sun, 29 Aug 1999, Michael Chong <mchong@ytv.com> wrote:

> I was just checking out Amazon's info on _Nightmare Town_ and came across
> the listing for _Woman in the Dark_. There isn't much details. What is it?

'Woman in the dark' is a long short story. It first appeared as a three-part serial in Liberty magazine in 1933. It next appeared in a Mercury Mystery digest in 1952, also entitled _Woman in the Dark_, together with three Op stories and three non-Op stories. Most of the Mercury Mystery / Jonathan Press digests were re-issued as Dell map-backs. The Woman in the Dark digest *wasn't* re-issued.

The story's next appearance was as a hardback in 1988, published in both the US and the UK, with the subtitle 'a novel of dangerous romance', with an introduction by Robert B. Parker. This is likely to have been the item you saw listed on Amazon.

> Also, once I came across a copy of an old copy of something called
> _Blood Money_ attributed to Hammett. I couldn't skim through it
> because it was wrapped in plastic.

_Blood Money_ contains two linked stories, which combine to make a two-part 'novella'. The stories are: 'The Big Knockover' and '$106,000 Blood Money'. The stories first appeared in Black Mask in the 1920s. They were first issued together as a Bestseller Mystery under the title
_$106,000 Blood Money_ in 1943. I'm not sure if the first printing
(1943) or second printing (1944) of the second edition (ie the Tower edition) was the first to take the short title _Blood Money_. Layman isn't clear on this in his Hammett bibliography, and I haven't yet unpacked the article by William F. Nolan which unravels the printing history of this title.

The short title was also used for the Dell edition (3rd ed) which was printed twice, as Dell #53 in 1944 (machine gun cover) and Dell #486 in 1951 (gga cover).

It was published again (4th ed) as a Jonathan Press Mystery in 1948, under the title _The Big Knock-Over_.

The two linked stories appear again, with others, including the fragment
'Tulip', in the collection put out under the title _The Big Knockover_ in 1966 with an introduction by Lillian Hellman.


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