Re: RARA-AVIS: still stumped on the name in Red Harvest
30 Aug 99 16:40:00 -0400

     Re ED's recent post:
     " . . . I do recall reading something a long time ago about a name for
     the Op (it might have been an Ellery Queen introduction to one of the
     Dell collections) . . . "
     In one of the Queen-edited Op collections, I forget which one
     off-hand, the story "Who Killed Bob Teal?" is included. This story
     was rejected by *Black Mask*, so Hammett submitted it as a true-crime
     article to *True Detective*, where it first appeared. It was by-lined
     as being written "by Dashiell Hammett of the Continental Detective
     Agency" in its *TD* appearance. Basically all Hammett did to change
     the story from a fictional *Black Mask* submission to a non-fiction
     *True Detective* submission was to add a paragraph at the beginning in
     which he explains that "the name of the characters and city have
     different ones than those I have given them here. Those familiar with
     the story know that I have kept the facts true," or something to that
     In Queen's intro to the story for that collection, he concludes that,
     though the Op has always been considered a nameless figure, the *True
     Detective* byline shows that the Op was, and always has been, Dashiell
     Hammett. He also noted that the real-life figure on whom Hammett
     modeled, to some degree at least, his famous PI was named Jim Wright.
     Wright had been Hammett's supervisor at the Baltimore office of the
     Pinkerton Detective Agency (which, by the way, was located in an
     office building known as the Continental Building; presumably this was
     where Hammett got the name for his fictional counterpart to the
     Pinkertons. That's as close to naming the Op as any of Hammett's
     editors ever got.
     When Hammett's *Black Mask* editor, I think it was Phil Cody before
     J.T. Shaw took over, asked about the character's lack of a name,
     Hammett replied that he was "more or less of a type" and added "I'm
     not sure he deserves a name." - Jim Doherty

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