This is a collection of the stories about the Continental op published in Black Mask during the 20s. While not as diverse and interesting as the stories that Lillian Hellman collected and published they are still enjoyable. I think the biggest difference is there is much less characterisation in these stories, and much less drinking and the seedy side of life with shady and diverse characters. Here everyone is a bit too clean. That said the writing style is as flawless as ever. You can hear Humphrey Bogart reading you the story in the prose (albeit the continental op is short and fat which I love as he's not the heroic detective you get used to in film noir).
The Golden Horseshoe was by far my favourite short story in here. It had the most characterisation and the most diversity. It saw the detective going to Tiajuana where he met up with an English Opium addict, some prostitutes and went on a three day drinking binge, with the guy who turned out to be the murderer, or at least the man hiring the murderer. It was great! The other stories were a little less memorable, there was a nice couple about a woman theif who ended up trying to go straight but still got sent to the chair anyway.
An enjoyable collection, I am almost running out of Hammett to read now, only have the Thin Man and whatever short stories I can find which is sad as I just love the way he writes....Continua