From: Brian Evankovich ( briane1911a1@hotmail.com)
Date: 27 Nov 2004

James, Great observations. I wasn't offended at all. I'm not sure I would compare TMF with Gatsby, but my only exposure to Gatsby was a force-feeding in high school which I hardly paid attention to. Perhaps I should go back and see what Fitzgerald did and then read TMF again (that would be a good excuse to dig it up). What I agree with 100% is how good it truly is, and it's the one novel that lives up to all the hype surrounding it when so many others do not. I hear thae Joe Gores did an almost-as-good job with one of his novels - Interface, I believe, and perhaps somebody who knows can comment - so I'm not convinced all future novels pale in comparison, but Dash turned out a story that has held up over the years, and you can't say that about all of his followers or contemporaries. Raymond Chandler wrote that a classic in the "mystery genre" had yet to be written (he said this post-TMF) but I think TMF is about as close as we'll get to such a thing. Is it because Hammett cared about what he was doing and not trying to earn a buck? Who knows. If you break TMF down to its basic elements, it's just another potboiler, but Dash's craftsmanship, attention to detail, and capabilities as a storyteller is what keeps us coming back for more.

One thing I will add that may offend (and let the flames begin!).... what I enjoy about Brett Halliday's Michael Shayne books is that Shayne can be as crafty, calculating, and unapologetic as Spade. Tampering with evidence in
"Dividend on Death" - hiding the actual murder weapon, tearing up a confession he knows is bogus - are prime examples. Halliday wrote post-TMF, and while his writing style certainly wasn't as clean as Hammet's, he told a few good stories, too. --Brian

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 27 Nov 2004 EST