Happy Birthday to Dashiell Hammett (among others)

Today is the birthday of Dashiell Hammett, the father of the noir mystery novel and author of The Thin Man and The Maltese Falcon. Read more about him here:

Hammett Bio


Also born today was Vincent Price, actor whose stage and movie performances will be forever linked with Edgar Allen Poe. His bio is here: Price Bio

Happy Birthday, gentlemen. Thanks for your work.

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Comment by Eric Christopherson on May 30, 2009 at 1:32am
Maybe Tom Clancy jinxed it for the rest of you, Dana?
Comment by Dana King on May 30, 2009 at 1:09am
Hammett was born in Maryland. Cain was born in Maryland. I live in Maryland. What the hell's my problem?
Comment by Jack Getze on May 29, 2009 at 1:35pm
I started on Cain with Double Indemnity, but then was really impressed with his diverse narrators. Mildred Pierce is a good novel, and so is Serenade, about a muscian. (see below)

Wikipedia says: July 1, 1892 – October 27, 1977

Cain was born into an Irish Catholic family in Annapolis, Maryland. The son of a prominent teacher and an opera singer, he had inherited his love for music from his mother, but his high hopes of starting a career as a singer himself were thwarted when she told him that his voice was not good enough. After graduating from Washington College in 1910, Cain was drafted into the United States Army and spent the final year of World War I in France writing for an Army magazine. Back in the States, he continued working as a journalist and briefly served as the managing editor of The New Yorker, but later turned to screenplays and finally to fiction.
Comment by Patrick Balester on May 29, 2009 at 1:14pm
Thanks for the great comments. James Cain is certainly worthy of mention as Dashiell's equal peer. Anyone know when his birthday is? We can celebrate that when it rolls around too!
Comment by Dana King on May 29, 2009 at 4:11am
Good point, Jack. The definition or noir is enough in the eye of the beholder for the question to go both ways. Hammett broke ground on the sparse, dry, style of writing, but Cain led the way in what a connoisseur might consider "classic noir," dark stories seen through the eye of the doomed criminal. I could be persuaded either way on that. I think we all agree, both were truly great writers. I remember reading Double Indemnity after having having seen the movie several times, and was shocked at the ending. Just sat there with my mouth open. Not at all like the book. (I'm not giving spoilers. Read the book, for those who haven't already. it's a genuine classic.)

I'll definitely be at Bouchercon. I'll look forward to seeing you there and sharing a beverage or three.
Comment by Jack Getze on May 29, 2009 at 3:34am
Thank you, Dana. I agree private eyes with a dark side maybe the original. I just always think of Cain as the first one to use a real crook as the narrator. But I love ALL these books and think this would be a great topic for a beer and/or whiskey session. You going to Bouchercon this fall?
Comment by Dana King on May 29, 2009 at 2:11am
The Maltese Falcon was published in 1930; Double Indemnity saw print as a serial in 1936. Red Harvest and The Dain Curse were out in 1929. While Cain gave noir much of its darkness and internal angst, Hammett was actually there first.
Comment by Eric Christopherson on May 28, 2009 at 8:18pm
Huge fan of his. In August I'm spending nearly a week in San Francisco while my wife attends an academic conference during the daytime. Think I'll try and find Hammett's old apartment there as I've read it still exists.

I read a biography once and was surprised to learn his first name, a family surname, is pronounced "Dash-eel" not "Dash-ell."
Comment by Jack Getze on May 28, 2009 at 9:36am
What about James M. Cain? I thought DOUBLE INDEMNITY was the original noir novel. Not that it freaking matters. Happy Birthday, Dash!

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