Hammett: Another “Clew”

The last time Hammett’s 1924 Op story “The Tenth Clew” got a mention on this site was when we linked to a bit where Mike Nevins covered some odd editing Frederic Dannay did on the ending in the 1940s. I figured after Dannay got it into paperback, the story just lived on in one book or another — I didn’t realize it had another run as a newspaper serial in the 1950s.

Terry Zobeck has mentioned here how several of those 1920s Op tales saw fresh life in newspaper magazine supplements in the 1930s — there’s even the suggestion that Hammett sold them again as “new mystery thrillers,” as if their origins in the pulp Black Mask were forgotten — or just not worth mentioning.

Now John D. Squires sends along a few Hammett appearances — out of hundreds — that he found on a research site devoted to newspapers in New York state — just New York state. You can track down ads for his radio shows such as The Fat Man, articles reporting how Hammett won’t talk when he’s hauled before Joe McCarthy, and in this case “The Tenth Clew” appearing in several parts in The Sunday Press — the opening of “Chapter 4” can be seen above.

For the ambitious bibliographers out there, I suspect JDS just opened a big can of worms. If you find anything earthshaking, let me know. One angle that might pan out comes off something Vince Emery mentioned to me a year or two back — how after Hammett was blacklisted for refusing to talk, his radio shows pulled from the air, his book production hampered, that he still seemed to have some source of income through the 1950s. Could it — or part of it — have been selling his Op stories yet again to newspapers?

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