RE: RARA-AVIS: Practical tips from hardboiled dicks

From: Anthony Dauer (
Date: 07 Nov 2000

Hammett on Interrogation and Marksmanship

"We got not another word out of her; and that is the only way in the world to beat the grilling game. The average suspect tries to talk himself out of being arrested; and it doesn't matter how shrewd a man he is, or how good a liar, if he'll talk to you, and you play your cards right, you can hook him -- can make him help you convict him." Page 115, paragraph 2.

"A gun came out of his coat.

 Firing from my pocket, I shot it out of his hand.

 'Now behave!' I ordered.

 He sat rubbing his benumbed hand and staring at with wide eyes at the smoldering hole in my coat.

 Looks like a great stunt, this shooting a gun out of a man's hand, but it's a thing that happens now and then. A man who is a fair shot (and that is exactly what I (Continental Op) am -- no more, no less) naturally and automatically shoots pretty close to the spot upon which his eyes are focused. When a man goes for his gun in front of you, you shoot at him -- not at any particular part of him. There isn't time for that -- you shoot at him. However, you are more than likely to be looking at his gun, and in that case it isn't altogether surprising if your bullet should hit his gun -- as mine had done. But it looks impressive." Page 117, paragraphs 9-13.

-- Dashiell Hammett, "Zigzags of Treachery" (Nightmare Town: Stories, edited by Kirby McCauley, Martin H. Greenberg, and Ed Gorman)

Anthony Dauer

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