cover image Woman in the Dark: A Novel of Dangerous Romance

Woman in the Dark: A Novel of Dangerous Romance

Dashiell Hammett. Alfred A. Knopf, $15.95 (75pp) ISBN 978-0-394-57269-7

Other than Nick Charles in The Thin Man , Hammett's protagonists have never been particularly successful romantically. ``Brazil,'' in this story, iswith mixed results. Luise Fischer stumbles into Brazil's remote country house in the middle of the night, running away from her boyfriend, Kane Robson, and his bodyguard, Conroy, who arrive on her heels. In the fracas that ensues when she refuses to leave with them, they kill her great Dane. Brazil beats them up, leaving Conroy seriously injured. Brazil and Luise flee to Brazil's friends in the city, where the police find them, shoot Brazil as he escapes and arrest Luise on trumped-up charges. Out on bail, she discovers that Brazil is at a sanatoriumrun by a friend of Robson's. She goes back to Robson; the man she loves is under his power. First published in Liberty magazine in 1933 and issued as a pulp paperback in the 1950s, the novella is short enough to read in an hour. There are a few vintage Hammett lines, but they are overwhelmed by stilted dialogue; this slight effort has none of the power of The Maltese Falcon or The Glass Key . Robert B. Parker has written an introduction, billed as an ``appreciation.'' 25,000 first printing; BOMC dual main selection; QPBC selection. (September)