I read this book for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge hosted over at My Reader’s Block from January 1 – December 31, 2016. The challenge is to read books that you already own.
Red Harvest – Dashiell Hammett
Personville, a city of forty-thousand in Montana, grew because a company developed mines. The mine owner had called in thugs to push back workers and their troublesome union organizing. The workers were duly crushed but the thugs didn’t leave since the pickings from vice rackets were so sweet. The town government was corrupted by the owner and the thugs. The mine owner gave his son a local newspaper to woo him back from Europe. Trouble was stirred when the son started a reform campaign and called in an operative from the Continental Detective Agency to provide facts to fuel the reform. The Continental Op, who has no name, arrives and the son is shot dead in the street.
With his client dead, the Continental Op makes a deal with the mine owner to find the killer and by doing so shake up the bad guys that run the town. The Op does find the killer but the owner backs off reform. The Op does not let him off the hook. The Op employs deceit, brutality, and bad guys killing bad guys, among other low tactics, to clean the town up.
The Nobel Prize-winning author André Gide called the book "a remarkable achievement, the last word in atrocity, cynicism, and horror.” For sure, It is not for faint-hearted readers. After all, Hammett coined the phrase “blood simple” which inspired the Coen brothers call their first movies, an experiment in noir, Blood Simple. Nor is it for easily confused readers due to the convoluted plot and large cast whose names have to be remembered.
Strangely, the book is not grim – its high spirits are irresistible.