The Just Desserts mystery fiction discussion group held its final monthly meeting of the year on October 26th, 2023. 19 Attendees discussed the Life and Works of classic American author Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961), with participants having read several different selections by this author. If you have read any of Hammett’s mystery novels, and would like to contribute your comments about it/them, please do so as a reply comment to this blog post, below.
Dashiell Hammett titles read or listened to by group members for this discussion included: Red Harvest (4 readers), The Maltese Falcon (12 readers), The Dain Curse (3 readers), The Glass Key (1 reader), The Thin Man (7 readers), Nightmare Town (short story collection, 2 readers), The Woman in the Dark (novella, 1 reader), Too Many Have Lived (anthology featuring works by many contributors to Black Mask magazine, including Hammett, 1 listener). Opinions about Hammett and his works ranged from “one of my favorite authors” to “hated it”, though the majority fell somewhere in the middle. Easily 2/3rds of the group appreciated or enjoyed reading a Hammett novel, but less than 1/2 appeared interested in reading anything more by him. There was a general consensus that his skills as a writer were undeniable, as was his major influence on the genre of mystery fiction, particularly the “hardboiled” subgenre. But his writing was definitely of his time (1920s-1930s for the most part), with his characters expressing disparaging attitudes towards women, minorities and non cishet individuals, and doesn’t necessarily translate well into an enjoyable read for modern audiences accustomed to more enlightened stances.
For additional reminders about upcoming Just Desserts meetings (once they resume) and/or other announcements of interest to mystery fans, don’t forget to sign up for the Just Desserts e-mail list. Or, once in-person meetings are possible again, if you’re logged into your account on Facebook, you can visit the Events page for the Lincoln City Libraries, and mark whether or not you plan to attend upcoming sessions of Just Desserts – this is a great way for you to help us promote this engaging discussion group!
So…What did you think of the works of Dashiell Hammett? Which have you read?
The following handout was prepared for the members of Just Desserts: The Works of Dashiell Hammett.
This was our final “in person” meeting for 2023. Just Desserts is on its year-end hiatus in November and December, but will return in January 2024, with a discussion of the many series by Allison Brennan.