Master of detective fiction, Dashiell Hammett is known for gripping novels like The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man. Some of Hammett’s most enduring characters, furthermore, include Detective Sam Spade (portrayed by Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon adaptation) and Nick Charles (portrayed on screen by William Powell in The Thin Man).
Another classic Hammett detective is the Continental Op, perhaps best known to readers from the novels Red Harvest and The Dain Curse. The Op, however, is also the protagonist in many of Hammett’s short stories. Though not as well-known as his novels, the author’s short stories are equally as compelling. These eight short story collections will have you on the edge of your seat all the way through to the shocking conclusions.
Corkscrew and Other Stories
Set among the tense heat of the Arizona desert, “Corkscrew,” and other stories in this collection, see the Continental Op sent into a cowboy town to investigate a series of murders. Of course, the San Francisco detective is in for way more than he bargained for in this hard-edged town. Corkscrew and Other Stories also includes “Dead Yellow Women” and “The Gutting of Couffignal.”
Fly Paper and Other Stories
In the titular story “Fly Paper,” debutante Sue Hambleton has a taste for danger. Determined to escape from the shadow of her upper-crust family, the socialite runs away from home and embarks on a debauched crime spree alongside some of the seediest and most dangerous figures imaginable. When Sue finally surfaces in San Francisco, it’s up to the Continental Op to deal with the potentially deadly consequences of the young woman’s actions. “The Farewell Murder,” and “Death and Company” are also featured in this collection.
The Golden Horseshoe and Other Stories
In The Golden Horseshoe and Other Stories, the Op is called on to find an Englishwoman’s missing husband. The husband, an addict, was last seen in Tijuana, and so the Op must head south of the border, and directly into the path of danger. Also included in this collection are the short stories “The House in Turk Street,” and “The Girl with the Silver Eyes.”
Arson Plus and Other Stories
In the first of the short story collections to feature the Continental Op, the titular hard-boiled detective must solve a deadly case of arson. Amidst the wreckage of a gasoline-soaked home, everyone is a suspect—from the neighbors, to the servants, to the owner of the home himself. “Slippery Fingers” and “Crooked Souls” also grace the pages of this collection.
It and Other Stories
When businessman Dan Rathbone and $100,000 go missing simultaneously, it’s up to the Op to figure out if Rathbone merely got greedy and skipped town with the money, or if something far more sinister is at play. It and Other Stories also includes “Bodies Piled Up” and “The Tenth Clew.”
Creeping Siamese and Other Stories
The Op is minding his own business when a man staggers into his office, utters his chilling final word, “Hell,” and then dies. The Op immediately sets off on a quest to discover the victim’s identity, his shady underworld connections, and his connections to San Francisco. This short story collection also includes “The Big Knock-Over” and “$106,000 Blood Money.”
Who Killed Bob Teal? and Other Stories
Bob Teal joins the Continental Detective Agency with every sign of becoming a star detective. When he is tragically cut down in his prime by a bullet, the Op will stop at nothing to untangle the mysterious web of deceit and danger surrounding Teal’s death. Fans of The Maltese Falcon will see how Hammond first experimented with that same premise in the shocking short story, “Who Killed Bob Teal?” This collection also includes “The Whosis Kid” and “The Scorched Face.”
The Main Death and This King Business
In “The Main Death,” The Continental Op must figure out what happened to Jeffrey Main—a man recently involved in a scuffle that left him dead, his wife unconscious, and $20,000 stolen. The police are convinced that two gunmen perpetrated the crime, but it’s up to the Op to crack this case of murder and greed. Also included in this collection is “This King Business.”
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