Nightmare Town: Stories

Dashiell Hammett, Author, Kirby McCauley, Editor, Martin Harry Greenberg, Editor
Dashiell Hammett, Author, Kirby McCauley, Editor, Martin Harry Greenberg, Editor Alfred A. Knopf $25 (432p) ISBN 978-0-375-40111-4
Paperback - 432 pages - 978-0-375-70102-3
Paperback - 394 pages - 978-1-62730-027-8
Paperback - 432 pages - 978-0-330-48110-6
Hardcover - 416 pages - 978-1-4472-1957-6
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Smart and tough is the formula for the art of Hammett (The Maltese Falcon; The Thin Man), widely acknowledged as the master innovator of the hard-boiled detective novel. These 20 previously uncollected novellas and short stories feature enigmatic plots of devilish intricacy, rife with fisticuffs and pistol shots, and populated by stiffs, laconic coppers, lowlifes and droll, world-weary detectives. Sam Spade shows up several times, as does the Continental Op, smoking his Fatimas and grilling coy, mendacious women. The delicate balance between extremes of brutality and cleverness makes most of these stories classic studies in suspense. Moods are set with smoky authenticity, and characters are powerful talkers and smooth operators, with dialogue unforgettable for its tough, blunt energy. In ""His Brother's Keeper,"" a story of betrayal and redemption is told through the eyes of a dumb prize-fighter, so that the reader is always a step ahead of the narrator, but is sympathetic toward him. ""Ruffian's Wife"" is a fine literary exploration of a woman's disillusionment as she discovers her husband's true nature, even as she stands by him. ""A Man Named Thin"" is a detective, a suave narrator/protagonist whose father is both annoyed at his son's poetry writing and impressed by his creative case-solving. With an informative introduction by William Nolan briefly outlining Hammett's life, this volume offers a broad, exciting selection of seminal works by the robust, quintessentially American godfather of the genre. (Sept.)
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