Monday, December 5, 2011

The ten best fictional sleuths

For The Observer, Euan Ferguson came up with a list of the ten best fictional sleuths.

One entry on the list:
The Continental Op
Dashiell Hammett

I’ve gone for this Man With No Name rather than Philip Marlowe and his unbeatable one-liners because, evocative though Raymond Chandler’s antihero is, Marlowe too often shot first and asked questions afterwards. Hammett (pictured) gave us a wise and ego-free sleuthing flatfoot, who follows up and follows up and, rained on and cold and tired, keeps following up tiny matchbook leads until he has done his paid job. True sleuthing in Red Harvest and The Dain Curse and we never knew his name. To make up for this, Hammett gave us Sam Spade.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Continental Op (in The Big Knockover) also appears on Jerome Charyn's list of the five best tales of dislocation. Hammett is one of Barry Forshaw's six American noir masters.

--Marshal Zeringue