Re: RARA-AVIS: Last Hammett Red Harvest Day

From: William Denton (
Date: 31 Jan 2000

On 31 January 2000, wrote:

: I meant to comment earlier when the book of the month was being
: discussed more heavily. Since, it's the end of the month, I'll just
: throw in my two bits.

Same here. I've been meaning to say something about it for weeks, so I'll sneak in a few words today.

This is a great book. There are quite a few other books on the reading list that are enjoyable, but this has got some of the finest prose around. I can't remember right now the details of the scenes that really stood out, but the bit where the car comes around the corner, leaking gunfire, was one. Hammett describes violence in short, punchy sentences with no ornament, and it's more effective than any chapter-long pulse-pounder someone like Lehane would do. What beautiful writing. Great bunch of characters, too, and it had some of the necessary really confusing parts where it's hard to keep who's who straight.

There was some talk about Dinah Brand. I liked her and could see why she and the Op got along so well. She's not described as any kind of glamour puss, but she's quite appealing.

I picked up Cawelti's ADVENTURE, MYSTERY, AND ROMANCE the other day and read his section on Hammett, but I don't have it near me so I can't quote anything he mentions about RED HARVEST. It's interesting, though.


William Denton : Toronto, Canada : : Caveat lector.

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