Author(s): Dashiell Hammett
'When I opened my eyes and sat up in bed Nora was shaking me and a man with a gun in his hand was standing in the bedroom doorway'. Ex-detective Nick Charles attracts trouble like a magnet. He thinks his sleuthing days are over, but when Julia Wolf, a former acquaintance, is found dead, her body riddled with bullets, Nick - along with his glamorous wife, Nora - can't resist making a few enquiries. Clyde Miller Wynant, Julia's lover and boss, has disappeared. Everyone is after him, but Nick is not convinced Wynant is the murderer - and when he finds a junked-up hoodlum with a careless attitude to guns in his bedroom, it's only the beginning of his troubles.
Harsh lights and romantic black shadows: this is the heyday of American crime writing Guardian The ace performer Raymond Chandler
Dashiell Hammett was born in Maryland in 1894. He grew up in Philadelphia and Baltimore. After leaving school at the age of 14, he held a variety of jobs until he finally became an operative for the legendary Pinkerton's Detective Agency. The First World War interrupted his sleuthing, and also shattered his health. He turned to the writing of detective fiction and is regarded as one of the masters of the genre. Hammett has been a major influence on contemporary fiction. He died in 1961.