RE: RARA-AVIS: Chandler, Hammett, Daly: Bassett

Date: 03 Dec 2003


Re your question below:

> Did Hammett ever write about whether or to what
> extent Daly had any
> influence on his choices, of market if not career?
> I don't know/remember
> whether the lead time in publication between Daly's
> and Hammett's early
> contributions to HB would've allowed Hammett to even
> see Race Williams and
> his predecessors before beginning to publish his own
> CF.

Hammett's first BLACK MASK story, "The Road Home," and Daly's first BLACK MASK story, "The False Burton Combs," both appeared in the same issue, December 1922. Both displayed a tendency toward the hard-boiled PI type of character, but the notion wasn't quite fully formed in either story. Appearing in the same issue, it seems unlikely that Daly had any influence on Hammett.

Daly beat Hammett into print with the very first genuine hard-boiled private eye story, "Three-Gun Terry," in the May 15, 1923, issue of BLACK MASK, followed in the very next issue by "Knights of the Open Palm," the first official Race Williams story
(though Terrence Mack in "Three-Gun Terry" is virtually identical, and the story could be reprinted as "Three-Gun Williams" with no problem).

Hammett's first Op story, "Arson Plus," appeared, IIRC, in one of the September 1922 issues of BLACK MASK. Though Daly beat him into print by a few short months, it doesn't seem at all unlikely that Hammett, being a far more careful writer, might have been working on "Arson Plus" before either of Daly's yarns were printed, Since he'd already exhibited a tendency toward this kind of fiction in "The Road Home," I feel safe in saying that, had Daly never written a word, Hammett still would have created the Continental Op. The hard-boiled private eye character was independently conceived by Daly and Hammett, and Hammett's vision is the one that has, justly, endured.

That said, Daly should be read, particularly by Spillane fans. Spillane was an avid Daly fan and has always acknowledged the influence the Race Williams series had on his Mike Hammer novels.


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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 03 Dec 2003 EST