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The Hunter and Other Stories

Dashiell Hammett

 

That’s not a misprint. And, 'The Hunter' et al, is not a mish mosh of rehashed works from one of America’s finest. The collection, is in fact, a completely newly ‘released’ selection of Hammett’s work; the early years. And Richard Layman and Julie Rivett (<- Hammett’s grand kid) book end the selections with wonderful insider knowledge, which just ads to the remarkable-ness of the gift the audience is privy to.

If you know the name Hammett, you’ve already conjured up Sam Spade and maybe Nick and Nora Charles. But, Hammett was a working writer, and a diversified one. Here, you’ll be reminded of just how dynamic the man was at forming a not-so-pretty look into human character. And, he needed a pay check, so you glimpse into his professional career. Hired by studios and varied submissions-geared-toward-a-publication’s-audience; or not as the case may have been…

Each story is a gem. Hammett grabs the reader in the first two sentences and whips you through the complicated synapses of many a human’s brain. He also offers up a frequent vocabulary lesson; he does not dumb down his words - ever. And, you feel descriptions and character traits were absolutely thought through; perhaps toiled over. Hammett seemed to know how powerful a word or phrase was to a reader’s perception of the whole tale. Yes, his economy of words is famous. But, here, you may have some awe at its artful, succinct, meanderings.

The folks you’ll meet here may plant themselves; their brilliance of form and the mentally-guided dance of getting to the point without a pretty bow or tidy summary. Hammett wrote with an unapologetic honesty of observation. Yet, he never condemns the less-than-noble. Hammett more often adding epiphany to many reader’s emotions as he exposes the character’s complete, albeit maddening, normalcy.

And the proverbial icing on the cake here is an unfinished Sam Spade story. Too short…but, it’s unfinished and written by the original. Savoir each word; its all we’ll ever be getting.

Hammett was one helluva writer and TH&OS should be a part of everyone’s book collection; those into Hammett, and those into superb writing, those hoping to glimpse how it’s done.

 


 

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