A literary event: The first-ever selection from the letters of Dashiell Hammett, the genius of American crime fiction . "This book is a thing of beauty, from concept to execution, taking us all the way down to the life-marrow of hardboiled's one true icon. Under Richard 'Shadow Man' Layman's masterful guidance, we find what Hammett sought (and fought for) his entire life...Truth."Andrew VachssMore than any book before it, this one gives us the complete Hammett, in his own words. Here is Hammett the family man, distant but devoted, sometimes late with the check but never too late; Hammett the student of politics, scanning the headlines from a Marxist perspective; Hammett the lover of Lillian Hellman, delighting in her style, humor, accomplishments but maintaining his independence. Celebrity, soldier, activist, survivor--Hammett was each in turn, but he was always, above all else, a writer. The artist is present in every line, and this book adds to his stature as a classic American writer."That these letters read exceptionally well is no surprise...[Hammett] comes across here as authentically, contradictorily human."
Book magazine"An illuminating collection of the famed writer's letters...A fine rendering of Hammett's life in his own words--and a remarkable slice of Americana."Kirkus Reviews"A dry fatalism in the letters sent me back to the novels and their absence of mercy. No book on Hammett has made that tone clear in terms of his life. But these letters show the old-fashioned literary gent (vaguely tickled by praise from Gide and Malraux) who still kept a thug in tow, a kind of inner Ned Beaumont, to make sure that pride or pleasure never got out of hand." David Thomson, New York Times Book Review "The key revelations are personal: self-portraits of the author as doting father, unremitting drunk, self-educated intellectual, committed Marxist, patriot, soft touch, seducer, and romantic...Compelling and informative."Dick Lochte, Los Angeles Times Book Review"They do not disappoint. They sound gloriously like Hammett, full of wry observation, whether he is describing his evening at the Brown Derby or finally reading Wuthering Heights." Lisa Levy, Entertainment Weekly (A-)