RARA-AVIS: The First Op Story

Fri, 29 Oct 1999 16:09:07 -0500

I stand corrected on the date of "Arson Plus." Relying on my memory, I thought it was published *between* "Three-Gun Terry" and "Knights of the Open Palm." It appears that both of Daly's sleuths, Mack and Williams, beat the Op out of the gate, rather than just Mack.

However, my being wrong about the dates of the stories doesn't make my main point any less valid. Hammett would, in all likelihood, have created the Op whether or not Daly had ever written a word. Chandler, Macdonald, Parker, and all the other PI writers who came after Hammett, were following a trail that Hammett, not Daly, blazed.

Moreover, given Daly's speed and prolificity, especially compared to Hammett's, it still seems likely, or at least possible, that Hammett might have been working on "Arson Plus" at roughly the same time Daly was working in "Three-Gun Terry," and Daly simply beat Hammett to the mailbox, only by months rather than weeks.


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