Re: RARA-AVIS: The Hard-Boiled Classics

From: Brian Thornton (
Date: 11 Jan 2009

  • Next message: JIM DOHERTY: "RARA-AVIS: Re:The Hard-Boiled Classics"

    On Sat, Jan 10, 2009 at 8:58 PM, <> wrote:


    > Mario wrote:"Aren't you thinking of Blood Money? I like this "novel" made
    > up of twostories, very pulpy,"

    > Yes, I am. Big Knockover was the other story. I think of it under that
    > title because I first read it in the short story collection with that title.

    ************** I believe the actual title is $106,000 BLOOD MONEY, and yes, it and THE BIG KNOCKOVER are two halves of the same story. Furthermore, I agree, it is definitely worth reading.

    I have to chime in here because if there's a bigger fan of Hammett's short stories out there I don't know of them. So many of his works are no available in Black Lizard collections such as THE CONTINENTAL OP and NIGHTMARE TOWN. When I think of Hammett of course I think of the novels, MALTESE FALCON, THE GLASS KEY, THIN MAN and the much weaker RED HARVEST (You could tell with it that he had cobbled together at least for shorter form pieces) and THE DAIN CURSE (My least favorite of his books), hell, you can even get that so-so later novelette of his, WOMAN IN THE DARK... but I also think of short stories.

    Titles like "Fly Paper," "Dead Yellow Women," "The Gutting of Couffignal,"
    "The Scorched Face" (my favorite of his stories), "The House on Turk Street, and its sequel, "The Girl With the Silver Eyes," all come to mind. GREAT stuff.

    With Hammett it's nice to read them in order, because it's fun to witness his development as a writer, and this is all the more true of Chandler, and particularly with Chandler's short stories. "Blackmailers Don't Shoot," his very first published short, is just awful. But he got better, and stuff like "Guns at Cyrano's," "Red Wind" "No Crime in the Mountains," "Bay City Blues," and Spanish Blood" followed. Chandler lifted a lot of the stuff from the short stories he wrote for venues such as BLACK MASK in the 1930s and used it in his novels (he called it "cannibalizing" them). So if you're interested in tracking his development as a writer, reading his short stories and then his novels might be helpful. I'm envious. Although I can read all of this stuff over and over again, I can never again read THE LONG GOODBYE or THE GLASS KEY again.

    As for names to add to your list, I recommend Ross MacDonald, because he started writing in the 40s, his Lew Archer series detective started out very hardboiled, and in the 50s, (beginning with stuff like THE DROWNING POOL) his novels evolved into more psychological studies. By the time he wrote THE DOOMSTERS (1959) Archer seemed in many ways to be part social worker, helping the rich with the long-buried sins that were jeopardizing their futures (namely their children). Many novels mining the same terrain followed during the next six or so years: THE CHILL, THE GALTON CASE, THE WYCHERLY WOMAN, THE ZEBRA-STRIPED HEARSE, BLACK MONEY (his personal favorite), and he went on to write others until his final novel THE BLUE HAMMER, in 1976.

    It's been said before with some validity that MacDonald wrote the same novel over and over, but man, what a novel, and what variations on a theme!

    Hope this helps-


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