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Hammett took murder out of the Venetian vase and dropped it into the alley ... . He wrote at first (and almost to the end) 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.

Samuel Dashiell Hammett (1894 --1961) was a pioneering writer of Hardboiled Detective fiction. His stories were backed up by personal experience; he had been a Pinkerton Detective himself.

Hammett's first major character was the Continental Op, an anonymous operative of the Continental Detective Agency, who first appeared in print in 1923 and went on to feature in over 30 stories and two novels, Red Harvest and The Dain Curse. Red Harvest is thought to have been an influence on Akira Kurosawa's film Yojimbo, and combined with The Glass Key is a heavy influence on Coen Brothers's noir film Miller's Crossing . Red Harvest also coined the term Blood Simple (after which the Coen Brothers' film debut is named); the phrase refers to the addled, fearful mindset people are in after a prolonged immersion in violent situations.

Hammett's third novel, The Maltese Falcon, introduced the world to prototypical private eye Sam Spade, and is perhaps his single most famous work, though many people know it only via the 1941 film version starring Humphrey Bogart, which is one of the defining examples of Film Noir.

His fifth and final novel, The Thin Man, received a Lighter and Softer film adaptation starring William Powell and Myrna Loy, which launched a popular film series.

Interestingly, he also teamed up with Flash Gordon artist Alex Raymond on a newspaper comic called Secret Agent X-9; while it was not a success for him (he left after the first year), it carried on with other writers and artists until 1996.


Works by Dashiell Hammett with their own trope pages include:

Other works by Dashiell Hammett provide examples of:

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