Courtesy of the Thrilling Detective Web site, here are some assessments of Hammett from three guys who knew a thing or two about crime writing:
- “If not the greatest, Dashiell Hammett is certainly the most important American mystery writer of the twentieth century, and second in history only to Edgar Allen Poe, who essentially invented the genre.”Tony Hillerman
- “When I was 14 or 15 I read Hammett's The Thin Man (the first Hammett I'd read) and it was a defining moment. It was a sad, lonely, lost book, that pretended to be cheerful and aware and full of good fellowship, and I hadn't known you could do that: seem to be telling this, but really telling that; three-dimensional writing, like three-dimensional chess. Nabokov was the other master of that.” Donald Westlake
- “As a novelist of realistic intrigue, Hammett was unsurpassed in his own or any time. ... We all came out from under Hammett's black mask.” Ross Macdonald
Again with a hat tip to Thrilling Detective, here's a Hammett bibliography to get you started reading Detectives Beyond Borders' nominee as the greatest crime writer ever. You could do worse than the Library of America's volume of Hammett's Crime Stories and Other Writings.
© Peter Rozovsky 2011