Re: RARA-AVIS: RE: Pinkerton literary influence on Hammett

From: Michael Robison (
Date: 12 Dec 2003

Vince wrote:
> As evidence of that literary Pinkerton influence, from the book True
> Detective Stories from the Pinkerton Archives, by Cleveland Moffett (New
> York: G.W. Dillingham Co., 1898), read this description of Red Leary: "He
> was a typical desperado in appearance, with his shock of red hair, and his
> bristling red mustache, and his ugly, heavy-jawed face, while his huge
> and shoulders, his big head, and powerful hairy hands impressed one with
> enormous physical strength. He weighed nearly three hundred pounds, and
> 'pals' used to point with pride to the fact that he wore a bigger hat than
> any statesman in America--eight and a quarter." (pp. 47-48)
> In "The Big Knockover," gives us this description of a character we later
> find is named Red O'Leary: "Just before they reached him another reached
> them--a broad-backed, long-armed, ape-built man I had not seen before. ...
> When the skull-cracker came out of the alley I saw his face in the
> dark-skinned, heavily-lined face, broad and flat, with jaw-muscles bulging
> like abscesses under his ears." (Crime Stories & Other Writings, p. 550)
> Hammett later repeatedly describes him as a red-head and a giant.

******************************* Excellent example, Vince. Thanks.


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