Hard Cover. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1929. First Edition. Fine.
First edition, first printing. Publisher's red cloth, stamped in black and yellow with skull and crossbones motif to front board. An excellent copy with a very slight touch of fading to the spine and very minor rubbing to the corners, former owner bookplate and a small bookseller sticker to front endpaper, else fine. Overall, a beautiful and fine example of Hammett's first book. Red Harvest was originally published serially in four installments in the pulp magazine Black Mask from November 1927 - February 1928. Like Hammett's subsequent novel The Dain Curse, Red Harvest features the protagonist the Continental Op, an operative of the Continental Detective Agency's San Francisco office. The Continental Op is regarded as one of the earliest archetypal hard-boiled detective characters, similar to Hammett's later character Sam Spade and Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe. The Op is a short middle-aged man, who has few interests or activities outside of his job, a trait which is emphasized by Hammett's omission of the character's name. In this novel, the Op travels to the corrupt mining town Personville, referred to locally as "Poisonville," to solve a murder mystery. Butte, Montana is popularly attributed as the inspiration for Poisonville, since Hammett visited this city while working as an operative for the Pinkerton Detective Agency, which inspired many of his detective stories.