Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Dain Curse

What will I do when I've read all of Dashiell Hammett's books and stories? Read them again, I suppose, because I don't want to stop reading them...

I just finished reading yet another of his novels, The Dain Curse (1929) -- which was originally serialized in Black Mask before being slightly reworked as published as a novel. The original foundation of the story shows through, as the novel is broken up into three distinct parts, all revolving around the same girl: Gabrielle Leggett/Collinson/Collins/Dain, who may or may not be under the grip of a family curse.

The story goes through many twists and turns (involving diamonds, robbery, murder, cults, drug use, sex, human sacrifice, adultery, etc.), as well as a set of interlocking mysteries that build and telescope into one final answer. Like many of Hammett's stories, not every loose end is tied up, and many aspects of the plot don't fit together, but as a reader, you just don't care. The characters, particularly Hammett's unnamed detective The Continental Op, are what the action is really about.

If you haven't read Hammett, and you have any love at all for mysteries, detective stories, or fun, well-written pulp, you must check him out. And although The Dain Curse is a little all over the place, even for Hammett, it is still worth dipping in to.

[And click here (and scroll down) for a gallery of some of the different covers The Dain Curse has been graced with over the years. I love this.]

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