Hammett: Dannay Does “Arson Plus,” per Nevins

Before his name came up again in connection with John Lawrence’s Marquis of Broadway stories, Mike Nevins got linked on this blog courtesy a bit he did about Frederic Dannay editing the Op tale “The Tenth Clew” — I put up the link in good part to show that Terry Zobeck and I aren’t the only people on earth concerned with stuff like that. Hell, there might be five or six. Ten. A couple of dozen. You know who you are.

Nevins has a nice angle on this stuff — he actually knew Dannay. So anytime I notice him doing something on Dannay vs. Hammett, I check it out.

Most recent bit concerned the first Op story, “Arson Plus,” which I noticed on Ed Gorman’s blog. And I see that in the comments Fred Blosser directs people over here to look over the Zobeck posts on Dannay vs. Hammett.

A little web surfing on my part found that the appearance on Gorman’s blog was a reprint — rerun? refreshing? — of a post Nevins had done elsewhere earlier. And Blosser piped in on those comments, too. Blosser’s tempted to investigate the textual differences between the pulp versions and the modern texts, but Zobeck plunged deep into that pool first. I suppose someone could always jump in from the other end, though, or belly-dive off the side.

But Blosser strikes a major cord when he notes that the 1925 yarn “Corkscrew” is “one of the very best Op stories.” I’m thinking that someday I should host a symposium on “Corkscrew” and how great it is — my standard for determining if someone “gets” Hammett is how they rate this satire of Western stories.

If you think it is off, or not very good, then you really don’t get Hammett. If you think it is topflight Op, like me and Terry Zobeck and now Blosser, you’re cool.

While I’ve got Blosser’s name punched into the blog, allow me to link to a couple of interesting pieces on Hammett he’s done, so you don’t miss out on them. First a bit about the town of Hopewell, Virginia, likely model for the crime town of Izzard in the story “Nightmare Town.” And a follow-up on that plus info on Hammett’s birthplace — and the usual regret of any Hammett fan that it looks as if any Pinkerton’s records for his P.I. years will never turn up.

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