Books »Nightmare Town

Like anything that it oft duplicated, it can be sometimes almost disappointing to see the original influence. Dashiell Hammett, who penned, among the many short pulp fiction stories in Nightmare Town, Thin Man and The Maltese Falcon is the grandfather of noir and this early collection, Nightmare Town,?took me a few stories to become enamored.

This collection is deceptively simple but the the hard boiled shorts, often with a twisty who dun it, has become a true joy for me to read. Each story is a brief (they were originally published in pulp magazines like Black Mask) escape from my subway ride to seedy motels, private detective agencies, back alleys, and gambling halls.

There is something ironically soothing about these tales of murder and deception, though I suppose its not unlike today's Law and Orders or CSIs – opiates for the masses (myself included) based on the darker side of life. The collection was compiled a few years back from Hammett's early career in the 20's and 30's. They show a young mind full of ideas with a quick hard hitting voice. His influence on the mystery genre is undeniable and this collection proves it.

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Posted on July 27, 2009

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