RARA-AVIS: Hammett's "Woman In The Dark"

From: Brian Thornton ( tieresias@worldnet.att.net)
Date: 17 Oct 2002

While we're on the subject of Hammett's work, I just finished "Woman In The Dark", which was serialized in two installments in Liberty magazine in 1933. It is interesting to note that the piece of fiction he published after this was "The Thin Man", and I think I can see why. This is a novelette (75 pages) that really doesn't seem to know what to do with itself. There is good characterization and a promising start, but the unconvincing ending seems slapped together, and uneven. Had he been in better form/health, Hammett could have fleshed this story out considerably, and he might have had something here. As it is, it remains a flawed masterpiece with too-swift transitions in the last ten or so pages.

It almost seems as if he ran out of gas and was just in a hurry to finish and sell it. Anyone else read this one? Thoughts?


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