Samuel Dashiell Hammett ( /dəˈʃiːl/; May 27, 1894 – January 10, 1961) was an American author of hard-boiled detective novels and short stories, a screenplay writer, and political activist. Among the enduring characters he created are Sam Spade (The Maltese Falcon), Nick and Nora Charles (The Thin Man), and the Continental Op (Red Harvest and The Dain Curse).
"One Hour" (1924) is notable for the number of clues Hammett includes pointing to the bad guys guilt and their hidden scheme. No less than six clues are embedded in the tale.
Two of the clues involve the geography of the streets, on which the crimes take place. Hammett also used street geography as part of a puzzle plot in "Women, Politics and Murder" / "Death on Pine Street". The reader has to play close attention to the positions, movements and directions, of a number of characters.
A man not knowing something he should have known, if his story were true, is another clue. The chief clue in the first section of Red Harvest involves identifying the only character who knew something, a parallel concept.
Hammett delivers the solution in two parts. Fairly early in the story, the Op identifies the bad guys. This is a shock effect: it looks as if he has far too little information at this point to solve the case. It is a noteworthy coup of mystery plotting. Then, at the end of the tale, the Op gives a full exposition of the clues and the fine points of a reconstruction of the crime. This recalls in formal terms, the solutions of mysteries by many authors.
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