This is the definitive biography of one of America's most important, most fascinating and most enigmatic twentieth-century writers. It is the first and only book on Hammett written with the full cooperation of his longtime friend Lillian Hellman, Hammett's late wife Josephine and his daughters. Dashiell Hammett's great original contribution to American Literature was the creation of the hard-boiled detective—the Continental OP and Sam Spade. Diane Johnson traces the origins of these characters in Hammett's own experience as a Pinkerton agent in the West and shows how his vision of the world was shaped by this lonely hard and often amoral existence. After serving in the Army in World War I and contracting tuberculosis, Hammett married and moved to San Francisco. In the 1920s and early thirties he finished, in a prodigious burst of creativity, the works that made him rich and famous: Red Harvest, The Dain Curse, The Maltese Falcon, and The Glass Key. After writing The Thin Man in 1934 he never finished another novel.
Diane gives an overview of the book:
A two-time finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, Diane Johnson has drawn comparisons to Jane Austen and Edith Wharton with her comedies of manners about Americans living and loving abroad.
Johnson’s books include L’Affaire (2004...