Thursday, July 20, 2006

Red Harvest

by Dashiell Hammett

I've always been a big fan of mysteries since my very first Nancy Drew back in third grade and have worked my way through so many of the big names in mystery and detection stories. Nero Wolfe, Perry Mason, Hercule Poirot . . . they're always good for a quick and entertaining read.

And you can't be an old movie buff like me without running into something with Dashiell Hammett's name on it--The Thin Man, The Maltese Falcon--what real mystery fan hasn't seen these classics? So when I came across a five-in-one volume of his most famous novels I snatched it up for a try.

Red Harvest was the first in the series so I tackled it first and maybe that was the big mistake. I should have jumped into The Maltese Falcon and enjoyed visions of Humphrey Bogart and Peter Lore along the way but I wasn't that lucky. Red Harvest is a huge gangster bloodbath and nothing else. It ricochets from one killing to the next with a predictability and monotony of a easy tennis match. Characters? Emotion? Theme? Naw, it's just a lot of revenge and betrayal without you even caring who just "got iced." I'd avoid this one unless you're having trouble sleeping.