Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dashiell Hammett

Dashiell Hammett, father of the American Hardboiled Detective novel, was born on May 27, 1894. Happy Birthday, Dash.

Perhaps the most enduring characters of Dashiell Hammett were Sam Spade and Nick and Nora Charles. Everyone who is a Hammett Fan has read The Maltese Falcon, and if you haven't, you should. Of course, you've seen one of the three movies based on the novel, but the book is great and one of my favorites. The novel introduces Sam Spade and many other characters-Brigid O'Shaughnessy, the Fat Man Casper Gutman, Joel Cairo and Wilmer Cook--all searching for a black statue-the Maltese Falcon. The two Continental Op novels, The Red Harvest and The Dain Curse should also be read. Actually you should read everything.

Hammett holds a place near and dear to me, as he spent much of his time in San Francisco. You can still walk those mean streets with Don Herron, author of The Dashiell Hammett Tour. No trip to San Francisco is complete without it. Herron is an expert on Hammett.

Some interesting links about Dashiell Hammett: American Masters (PBS) page. The Thrilling Detective has a complete list of Dashiell Hammett trivia-fiction, non-fiction, movies, stories, plays and more. J. Kingston Pierce wrote a great article in January Magazine: "Let's Talk about the Black Bird."

And, here's a Trailer from The Maltese Falcon.

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