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Hammett created revolutionary models for the morally ambiguous hero (Sam Spade) and the equal partnership of modern marriage (Nick and Nora Charles) now so universal that we have forgotten our debt to him.
Reprinted in 2004, his Continental Op stories proved so stunningly fresh that the 1920s hero could have carried a Blackberry without raising eyebrows unduly.
Bent cops, nightsticks, psychopaths and seductresses. Makes The Silence of the Lambs resemble a vicar's tea party. Skink, a feral former Florida governor who lives off roadkill, often features.
SL Read: The Black Dahlia (1987) Janwillem van der Wetering 1931- The capers of Grijpstra and de Gier, aka The Amsterdam Cops, are oddly appealing. SL Read: Double Whammy (1987) Dashiell Hammett 1894-1961It’s a cinch to argue that Hammett was the most influential stylist of the past century and probably the father of the modern literary novel.
SL Read: King's Ransom (2003) Kyril Bonfiglioli 1929-85 A raffish former art dealer, Bonfiglioli created - in Charlie Mortdecai - an antihero (also a raffish art dealer) of irresistible charm. SL Read: Outsider in Amsterdam (1975) Carl Hiaasen 1953- A master of the comic crime novel, Hiaasen patrols Florida's Everglades.
Charlie has the manner of a demented Bertie Wooster and the morals of a polecat. SL Read: The Mortdecai Trilogy (1991) James Ellroy 1948- Ellroy's labyrinthine novels chart a West Coast underworld of corruption and evil, played out against real historical events. His villains are big business, petty crims and That Mouse.
It's a pity that The Mystery of Edwin Drood will forever remain unsolved.
JK Read: Vintage Murder (1937) Benjamin Black 1945- Black's two novels set in 1950s Dublin, in which lumbering pathologist Quirk investigates suspicious deaths, are bracingly bleak. JK Read: Christine Falls (2006) John Dickson Carr 1906-77 The master of the "impossible crime", he claimed to have come up with 80 versions of the locked-room mystery, usually solved by his Falstaffian sleuth Dr Gideon Fell. JK Read: The Hollow Man (1935) Michael Innes 1906-94 An Oxford don who wrote inventive crime fantasies.