Nut Ink. Mini reviews of texts old and new. No fuss. No plot spoilers. No adverts. Occasional competency.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Dain Curse (1929)

Author: Dashiell Hammett | Page Count: 240 Pages

"You're old enough to know that everybody except very crazy people and very stupid people suspect themselves now and then- or whenever they happen to think about it- of not being exactly sane. Evidence of goofiness is easily found: the more you dig into yourself, the more you turn up. Nobody's mind could stand the sort of examination you've been giving yours. Going around trying to prove yourself cuckoo! It's a wonder you haven't driven yourself nuts."

The Dain Curse is one of Dashiell Hammett's weaker books, but it's still a pretty great story in its own right. The Continental Op is one of my favorite Hammett characters, and he's used very effectively here, paired up with the quintessential troubled dame with legs that just won't quit. Gabrielle Leggett isn't the easiest character to like for a good chunk of the book, but Hammett does a terrific job developing her over the course of the novel, and she and the Op have some wonderful moments together.

The book is violent, sometimes brutally so, but there's a sweetness to it in spite of that that makes it very charming. Even though Hammett is willing to take the characters to dark places, he doesn't come at them from a cynical point of view. The mystery itself is never as interesting as the characters who are a part of it, but it has a delightfully satisfying and interesting conclusion. If you like detective novels, then any Hammett is worth reading, even if it's not his best stuff.

3.5 ghost biting detectives out of 5.

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