Red Harvest is Hammett's first novel and it's sprawling, full of action. The conspiracy element of the old millionaire hiring the Continental Op to clean up the town is an interesting premise. Then you realize that this millionaire is completely deluded. This hasn't been his town in decades. The story is reminiscent of Cain's Love's Lovely Counterfeit, written in 1942, 13 years after Red Harvest, and to some extent Jim Thompson's Wild Town written 20 some years after it.
As first novels go, Red Harvest hits the themes Hammett will explore in his mature work: corrupted wealth, the scions of wealth & corruption, shrewd, intelligent, unscrupulous women, amiable sociopaths, and a detective who walks a fine line between law & outlaw to achieve the right, not necessarily the legal, outcome.
While certainly not as good as The Maltese Falcon or The Thin Man, I found Red Harvest enjoyable as a thrilling read, and informative as the first link in an evolving writer's style.
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