Hammett: Ode to Op

Damon Sasser just popped me a link to “This Ain’t Sherlock Holmes,” a nice tribute to Hammett’s Op tales on the Vintage Crime website — written by Scott Montgomery, who may be the same Scott Montgomery I met during the secret noir underground readings hosted by Peter Maravelis during the Bouchercon in San Francisco last year. Includes cool quotes by Ace Atkins and others.

Scott, whichever Scott it is, does commit a couple of boners you don’t need to believe. He indicates that Hammett served in WWI in Europe, but had to come back when he contracted tuberculosis — Hammett served stateside in the Ambulance Corps, he never went to Europe. Scott also has him returning for a TB cure to Tacoma, Virginia — he took one of his cures in a lunger hospital outside Tacoma, Washington.

And an assumption I have seen a thousand times also pops up, that Hammett’s fellow Black Mask writer Carroll John Daly kind of “got there first” with the hard-boiled detective tale, since his first story with P.I. Race Williams appeared in the Mask a few months before the first Op yarn. As I mention in The Dashiell Hammett Tour book, page 32, in fact Hammett and Daly both appeared in those pulp pages for the first time in the December 1922 issue — both with P.I. stories. They came out of the gate at the same moment, and if you’ve ever heard of Daly, it’s because he appeared in Black Mask alongside Hammett.

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