What, more Hammett? Sure. My apologies to those expecting Raymond Chandler, but it’s hard to beat the master. Even in this sometimes almost incoherent thrill ride through the occult, drugs, the misdeeds of the rich, and amoral 1920s America. It ain’t called the Roaring 20s for nothing. This is the second in the Continental Op series and maybe Hammett’s most ambitious PI work, which follows a sharp-witted insurance investigator in Hammett’s trademark snappy prose. Sam Spade-like? Uh, no. The Op is short, fat, forty, and nameless, very far from a tough guy. He gets beaten up all the time in this, I admit it, quite convoluted novel. Fortunately for the mystery-challenged, the backstory is presented at the end of each of three parts, along with the Op’s wry takes on the case.
Is Curse a satire? A literary work? Some kind of skewed horror story? Yes to all the above.