Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Nightmare Town

I finished Nightmare Town over the weekend. It’s not a complete collection of Dashiell Hammett’s short stories, but it’s a good cross-section. There are quite a few Continental Op stories and three Spade stories.

One of the more interesting inclusions is the first 10 chapters of an early draft of The Thin Man. It’s more in line with the dark, gritty stories Hammett was famous for in the pulps. Nick and Nora Charles are not present. Instead, our hero is a world-weary private eye John Guild. In these 60 pages, we have murder, attempted murder, a missing person, a double life, embezzlement, fraud, and a suicide. As great as the finished Thin Man is, this story is a tantalizing preview of what might have been.

Hammett fans are advised to pick up the volume.

1 comment:

Cormac Brown said...

That "Thin Man" had more of the author in him than the witty bon viviant that we came to know the character as. Isn't amazing how many TV shows and low budget films have ripped off the story "Nightmare Town" without any credit to Hammett?