RARA-AVIS: Hammett's Woman in the Dark

ejm duggan (ejmd@cwcom.net)
Tue, 31 Aug 1999 10:42:49 +0000

james.doherty@gsa.gov wrote:

> *Blood Money* was first appeared as two semi-serial installments in *Black
> Mask* entitled "The Big Knockover" and "$106,000 Blood Money," which told
> the story of a major multiple bank robbery and its aftermath. The Op is the
> detective who solves the case.

That's right. These were the first stories Hammett wrote for Black Mask under Joe Shaw. The story runs that when Shaw took over the editor's job in 1926 he looked through some back issue and noticed Hammett's distinctive fiction. When Shaw realised there was no more Hammett work on file, he contacted Hammett to find out why. Hammett had given up
'Black Masking' because it didn't pay enough and (I think) had started working as a copywriter for Samuels the jeweller.

Shaw suggested that Hammett should write longer stories, hence these two lengthy tales (and the longer serials that would later become novels).

'$106,000 Blood Money' is, as James has said, a heist caper. It has a huge cast of characters, many of whom have fairly loopy names. There's a rather amusing parody of it ('Mud Bunny') by Joe Breen which is worth a look if you've read these Hammett tales.


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