Re: RARA-AVIS: Red Harvest

From: Mario Taboada (
Date: 25 Oct 2001

<<So I know I'm taking aim at a sacred cow but does anyone agree with me that Red Harvest doesn't hold up very well?>>

No, I strongly disagree. This is my favorite Hammett novel and one of the very best examples of the hardboiled genre. By the way, what's so complicated about the plot that it would put off the modern reader? Hammett's plot twists are nothing compared to Michael Connelly's, for example. As to the writing itself, Hammett's is clearly experimental and original, with a particular black-and-white magic that, at least for me, is as fresh and vivid as ever.

<<Was this ever a popular success in novel form?>>

I remember reading that it was moderately sucessful in its day; on the other hand, it has stayed in print continuously since it was published, so the cummulative number of readers must be huge by now.

Bu the way, you should read Whitfield's Green Ice, another hardboiled masterpiece from that era. Besides being hardboiled, this one has definite noir elements, and has been pointed out as possibly the first noir novel, years before Cain.




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