Back Dashiell Hammett, “Zigzags of Treachery”

Dashiell Hammett (1894–1961)
From Dashiell Hammett: Crime Stories & Other Writings

Hand-colored photographic postcard published in the early 1910s by local wholesaler Richard Behrendt depicting “Terrific Street,” the nickname a century ago for Pacific Street in the Barbary Coast district of San Francisco, looking east from the corner of Kearny Street. “Zigzags of Treachery” includes a paragraph describing the neighborhood in the early 1920s as its multiethnic residents emerge on a typical evening.

Dashiell Hammett was born 126 years ago today, on May 27, 1894.

In stories written in the 1920s, he developed a hard-boiled narrator who was an employee for the Continental Detective Agency and who, many years later, became known to readers simply as the “Continental Op.” Hammett explained early on that he “didn’t deliberately keep him nameless,” but the detective got through the first couple of stories “without needing one, so I suppose I may as well let him run along that way.”

“He’s more or less of a type,” Hammett continued, “the private detective who oftenest is successful: neither the derby-hatted and broad-toed blockhead of one school of fiction, nor the all-knowing, infallible genius of another. I’ve worked with several of him.” The gritty realism of these early stories must have resonated with the editors of Black Mask magazine, who had asked if his characters were based on people he had known during his career at the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. “None of the characters is real in a literal sense,” he responded, “though I doubt it would be possible to build a character without putting into it at least something of someone the writer has known.”

Our latest Story of the Week selection, “Zigzags of Treachery,” features a case in which the Op depends for answers from one of the more enervating chores of true detective work: shadowing. Hammett’s trick is to conjure a page turner out of the tedious task of following suspects through miles and miles of the streets of San Francisco.

Read “Zigzags of Treachery” by Dashiell Hammett

Library of America

A champion of America’s great writers and timeless works, Library of America guides readers in finding and exploring the exceptional writing that reflects the nation’s history and culture.

Learn More

From poetry, novels, and memoirs to journalism, crime writing, and science fiction, the more than 300 volumes published by Library of America are widely recognized as America’s literary canon.

Benefits of Using Safe Crypto Casinos. One of the most captivating reasons people drift towards Australian casinos online-casino-au com is the promise of anonymity. Safe platforms guarantee that your identity remains a secret. Quick Payouts and Minimal Fees. No one likes waiting, especially for winnings. Safe crypto casinos ensure that payouts are swift and the fees minimal, if not non-existent.

Browse our books Subscribe

With contributions from donors, Library of America preserves and celebrates a vital part of our cultural heritage for generations to come.

Ozwin Casino offers an exciting array of top-notch slots that cater to every player's preferences. From classic fruit machines to cutting-edge video slots, Ozwin Casino Real Money collection has it all. With stunning graphics, immersive themes, and seamless gameplay, these slots deliver an unparalleled gaming experience. Some popular titles include Mega Moolah, Gonzo's Quest, and Starburst, known for their massive jackpots and thrilling bonus features. Ozwin Casino's slots are not just about luck; they offer hours of entertainment and the chance to win big, making it a must-visit for slot enthusiasts.

Support our mission