Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett

200px-RedHarvestPublished: 1929

Genre: noir detective fiction

Length: 216 pages

Setting: Personville during Prohibition (probably set current to publication)

Interest: It was a Time top 100 book.

Summary: A Continental Operative detective was hired by Donald Willsson to Personville, but before Willsson can dell the detective why he’s been retained, Willsson is murdered in the street. The detective (we never do learn his real name, just a bunch of aliases used and discarded in each new setting) goes to Willssons’ Father, Elihu, and convinced Elihu to hire him to clean up the town. The detective proceeds to stir up the town and turn all the organized crime bosses against each other. He continues to dig for who murdered Willsson, and by end we have a bloodbath.

Final thoughts: This is your stereotypical tough-guy detective who says all the things you expect the noir detective to say. It’s what spoofs like Prairie Home Companion’s Guy Noir are built around, and you see why it’s so easy to spoof. It’s a very well done book for its genre, but you have to enjoy a high body count and copious alcohol consumption. In fact, you can hardly tell it’s Prohibition, based on the amount of alcohol available to the shadier parts of Personville.

Title comes from: The amount of blood that’s spilled in the story as nearly every main character is murdered, usually in a hail of bullets.

Reading challenges fulfilled: 16/100 in the Read-a-Latte Challenge (BTW, her site got hacked, so I’ll add the link when she gets a new site up and running), an R in A-Z Reading Challenge (which takes me to 11/26)


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