Re: RARA-AVIS: Red Harvest

Date: 25 Oct 2001


Re your comments below:

> 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?

I certainly disagree, and quite strongly. I think it holds up damned well. I read it for the first time in high school (not all that long ago) and was riveted, and have been riveted with every re-reading. I regard the Op is the best PI in fiction, bar none, and HARVEST as his best novel-length appearance, notwithstanding the fact that its serial installments had to simultaneously stand as both independent short stories and as chapters in a longer work. In fact, I think the seams in HARVEST are very well-disguised; much more than in the Op's other two book-length appearances, THE DAIN CURSE and BLOOD MONEY, which were written under the same constraints.

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

I don't have any sales figures handy, but it was his first book sale (although BLOOD MONEY appeared first in magazine form). I doubt he would have made a second if it hadn't've sold at least middlingly well. It certainly wouldn't've remained continuously in print since 1928 without some initial commercial success.

Moreover, it wouldn't've inspired so many knock-offs, from Brett Halliday's A TASTE FOR VIOLENCE to Robert B. Parker's PALE KINGS AND PRINCES, if it hadn't've made some impact right from the start. It was the grand-daddy of the hard-boiled "Town Tamer" novels; in its way as influential as, perhaps more influential than, THE MALTESE FALCON's "quest object" and "turning your lover in" plots.


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