Wednesday 30 March 2016

The Dashiell Hammett Omnibus (Cassell, 1950)

No. 5 in a series of posts on books I've bought but haven't got round to blogging about properly – indeed may never get round to blogging about properly – so this will have to do. NB: linked in Friday's Forgotten Books, 1/4/16.

What is it?
A hardback first edition/first printing of The Dashiell Hammett Omnibus, published by Cassell in 1950. Running to nearly a thousand pages, it contains six of Hammett's Continental Op novels and stories – Red Harvest, The Dain Curse, "Dead Yellow Women", "The Golden Horseshoe", "House Dick" (a.k.a. "Bodies Piled Up") and "Who Killed Bob Teal?" – along with the Sam Spade novel The Maltese Falcon and the novels The Glass Key and The Thin Man.

Who designed the dust jacket?
Couldn't tell you – it's uncredited – but although it's a little wordy – and a little scruffy, condition-wise – it's still stylish enough, I feel, to be added to Beautiful British Book Jacket Design of the 1950s and 1960s under "Designer Unknown".

Where and when did I buy it?
Online, last year.

Why did I buy it?
I'd never read any Hammett, and wanted to try some of his hardboiled and noir classics, and The Dashiell Hammett Omnibus seemed a good way to do that; it's an uncommon edition, especially in first/first and in its dust jacket, even a scruffy one (I can only see two or three jacketed first impressions online at present), and represents the first British publication of many of the stories within.

Have I read it yet?
Some of it...


  1. Don't feel too much of a Hammett misfit, Nick. I still haven't read RED HARVEST or *any* of the short stories though I own every single Hammett anthology from the 1940s so I'm sure I have all his stories, probably many of them duplicated in various editions.

    What have you read so far? I hope THE MALTESE FALCON was among your first choices. I think I read THE DAIN CURSE first (because as a teen I was obsessed with anything dealing with occultism) then moved onto ...FALCON and finally THE THIN MAN which is *very* different from the movie if that's all you know. William Powell doesn't look or behave at all like the son of Greek immigrants Hammett created.

  2. Nick, that is some edition you've got there. Except for some comics and spiritual books, I don't think I have first editions of any novels. I have not read Dashiell Hammett and I'd certainly like to sample his Continental Op series.

  3. I just finished reading THE LOST DETECTIVE: BECOMING DASHIELL HAMMET by Nathan Ward. Now I want to go back and reread Hammett's works like you did.

  4. Shit, this volume has even more content than my Library of America edition of the five novels. And since this book is now vintage, I could still be the pretentious hipster I feel like for buying a Library of America volume of a pulp writer!