This is probably the first of the "hard-boiled" detective novels that were later written by such authors as Mickey Spillane, John D. MacDonald, and Robert Parker. I think this is the 3rd Hammett novel I've read and it's probably the best. The story of a private detective who goes to a mining town in the West (probably Montana) at the request of a client who is killed before he has a chance to talk to him. The town is totally corrupt, run by gangsters, bootleggers, and crooked cops. The detective decides to clean up the town and does so by starting a gang war. This probably had more violence, murders, and bloodshed than any other novel I've ever read, including recent thrillers such as the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child. Strong recommendation for this one.
Michael D. reviewed Red Harvest (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) on
I saw that this was picked as one of the 100 best books in the last 80 or so years by Time magazine. I got it with high expectations, since I like the movies that have been made from Hammett books. However, I really didn't like "Red Harvest." It was hard to connect to any of the characters, let alone the situations most they find themselves in. The hero is amoral, all the characters seem to be bad, and the slang makes it almost a parody, as well as making it hard to read and understand. I can see why Hammett's books work better as movies. The noir aspect is somehow more believable if the movie is done right. This book was not my cup of tea, or gin, for that matter.