Investigation Of Dashiell Hammett Novels Essay


Discuss about the Investigation of Dashiell Hammett Novels.



“I’ll Be Waiting” written by Raymond Chandler (1888–1959) is one of his shortest stories and like the usual stories written by him this one also is a detective story. Regarding the story, Chandler himself wrote “I didn’t think much of the story when I wrote it—I felt it was artificial, untrue and emotionally dishonest like all slick fiction” (Chandler). The story revolves around the characters of Tony Reseck, Eve Cressy, Tony’s brother Al and the man for whom Cressy is waiting (Chandler). The story has an abrupt opening where Cressy is waiting for the man whom she accidentally hurt. Eve tells about the man she is waiting for in the words “"Waiting for a tall dark guy that's no good, Tony. You wouldn't care why. I was married to him once. I might be married to him again. You can make a lot of mistakes in just one lifetime” (Chandler). However, Tony is concerned about Eve as the last woman who stayed in the hotel room ended her life by jumping off the balcony. However, according to the critics, “The girl, the detective, the bad boys looking for someone are all in their places, but there is no visible action” (Sigelman and William). The symbolism as well as the imagery which Chandler uses in the story is totally in synchronization with the mystery which surrounds the plot from the beginning.

“Death & Company” by Dashiell Hammett

The short story “Death & Company” by Dasheill Hammett (1894-1961) is a detective story which revolves around a murder (Gale). According to Raymond Chandler, "Hammett gave murder back to the kind of people that commit it for reasons" (Chandler). This particular short story of Hammett is noted for its stark realism and its portray of actual crime scenes. The story revolves around an “Op’s client”, apparently a wrong bird with the name of Chappell (Gale). The wife of Chappell has been kidnapped by an outfit called “Death & Company” and therefore he takes the help of the Op to get her wife back. The story gives several interesting facets of the life of the old man and even provides “……the history of kidnapping from Ross to Parker and waved it in their faces” (Gale). This short story is often considered to be the first appearance of Hammett in the “Black Mask” (Gale). Commenting on the importance of this story in the field of detective stories and also the importance of Hammett in the world of Literature, Tony Hillerman remarked "If not the greatest, Dashiell Hammett is certainly the most important American mystery writer of the twentieth century, and second in history only to Edgar Allen Poe, who essentially invented the genre" (Gale).

“Dealer’s Choice” by Sara Paretsky

Sara Paretsky (1947-), is another short story writer who takes the help of the detective genre to captivate the readers (Paretsky). It is to be noted that her best works have female protagonists at their center which are often considered to be a literary representation of her personal character (Paretsky). The short story under discussion here, “Dealer’s Choice” revolves around the character Easter who in order to settle of the problem of her brother’s gambling seeks the help of “Detective Marlow's office” (Paretsky). This particular short story just like the other short stories of the same genre has an intriguing with many sudden twists as well as turns (Paretsky). Her literary works are often seen as a response to the literary works of Raymond Chandler. In fact, the detective Marlow who forms an important part of this particular short story also features in most of the literary works of Chandler. This particular work of Paretsky also tries to redefine the role of women in the traditional detective works (Paretsky). According to the Newsweek (2018), “Sara Paretsky's private eye has been called the most engaging woman in detective fiction since Dorothy Sayers' Harriet Vane". Thus, it can be said that the works of Sara Paretsky is aimed to redefine the traditional genre of the detective fiction (Paretsky).

“The Maltese Falcon” by Dashiell Hammett

Hammett, often considered to be the master of the detective genre is more famous for his novel than his short stories (Gale). “The Maltese Falcon” is one such novel of Hammett on which is present day reputation largely rests. According to Ross Macdonald, "As a novelist of realistic intrigue, Hammett was unsurpassed in his own or any time... We all came out from under Hammett's black mask". This particular novel of Hammett just like his famous works has an intriguing at its centre. In fact, the very beginning of the novel creates an atmosphere of intrigue (Huston et al). The novel revolves around the search of the sister of Miss Wonderly, who runs away with the money of Miss Wonderly with a crook called by the name of Thursby (Gale). She therefore, takes the help of a professional detective to find her sister and also to get her money. The entire novel revolves around this particular action. Commenting on the art of Hammett in this particular novel, Raymond Chandler wrote in “The Simple Art of Murder”, "Hammett wrote... for people with a sharp, aggressive attitude to life. They were not afraid of the seamy side of things; they lived there. Violence did not dismay them; it was right down their street. Hammett gave murder back to the kind of people that commit it for reasons, not just to provide a corpse ... He put these people down on paper as they were, and he made them talk and think in the language they customarily used for these purposes" (Chandler). The place as well as the influence which Hammett wielded on the modern Literature has been adequately summed up in the words of Ross Macdonald when he says, "We all came out from under Hammett's black mask".


Chandler, Raymond. Raymond Chandler Speaking. Univ of California Press, 1997.

Chandler, Raymond. Stories and early novels. Vol. 79. Library of America, 1995.

Chandler, Raymond. The simple art of murder. Vol. 6. Parnell Classics, 2014.

Gale, Robert L. A Dashiell Hammett Companion. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2000.

Huston, John, et al. The Maltese Falcon. Warner Bros., 1941.

Paretsky, Sara. "Dealer's Choice." Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe (1988): 118-32.

Sigelman, Lee, and William Jacoby. "The not-so-simple art of imitation: Pastiche, literary style, and Raymond Chandler." Computers and the Humanities 30.1 (1996): 11-28.

Thompson, George J., William F. Nolan, and Vince Emery. Hammett's Moral Vision: The Most Influential Full-Length Investigation of Dashiell Hammett's Novels Red Harvest, the Dain Curse, the Maltese Falcon, the Glass Key, and the Thin Man. Vol. 3. Vince Emery Prod, 2007.

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