Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Paperback 1096: Red Harvest / Dashiell Hammett (Perma Books M-3043)

Paperback 1096: Perma Books M-3043 (1st ptg, 1956)

Title: Red Harvest
Author: Dashiell Hammett
Cover artist: Lou Marchetti

Condition: 8/10
Value: $25

Best things about this cover: 
  • More like Red Housecoat! Just an amazing garment.
  • "Say 'candy cane' again. I dare you. I double dare you, motherfuckerSay 'candy cane' one more goddamn time!"
  • The geometry of this interaction is mesmerizing. The hand triangle! Her left hand and her right cross and his "fear hand"—so much intense hand drama. Plus that look of complete contempt on her face ... god bless you, Lou Marchetti, king among cover artists!

Best things about this back cover: 
  • Not sure whose idea it was to put the "-DER" over the "WHO-" but it was not a good one.
  • This is a fairly succinct and vivid account of a thing that actually happens in the book. It does make me want to read the book. Nothing fancy going on back here, but in terms of drumming up interest in the story, mission accomplished.
  • I miss laudanum. And ice picks. Do people still do laudanum and kill with ice picks? Inebriation and murder were just *better* in the old days, man.
Page 123~

    "Reno and his mob were in the can. Reno was Yard's pup, but he didn't mind crossing up his head-man. He already had the idea that he was about ready to take the berg away from Lew." I turned to Reno and asked: "Isn't that it?"
    He looked at me woodenly and said: "You're telling it."
    I continued telling it. 

I love how much Hammett loves hardboiled slang. Always got the tough-guy patter down pat. This is what makes Hammett so enthralling—a great ear for dialogue, which makes the whole criminal scene feel dramatic and authentic. 


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1 comment:

DemetriosX said...

There's triangles all over the place. Her hands and his jaw, an open triangle suggested by her right arm and the side of his face, another with his arm and body. There's also that lovely line from her left shoulder down to his right elbow. The geometry used in laying out this picture is so explicit. In lesser hand, it could all look stilted, but Marchetti makes it perfect.

I'm bugged by "murdering" in the tag line. It makes it sound like the killing of gamblers, gunmen and crooked police is what's tearing the city apart. The word they want is "murderous." It's only half a letter wider, so why not use it?

The Continental Op just doesn't get the love Hammett's other creations do. I don't know if it's because he doesn't have a name or because he's not associated with Bogart or William Powell, but it's not fair.