Hammett: v. Carroll John Daly


Digging around in old partially mocked-up posts, I found another one which appears to be from circa late 2016 or early 2017:

Last October I got in a note from hardboiled pulp hound Terry Zobeck, in which he reported:

Today’s mail brought the June 1927 issue of Black Mask with the Op story “The Main Death.” But almost as exciting is the cover story — part 1 of Carroll John Daly’s The Snarl of the Beast, when collected later that year, the first Race Williams novel.

This wouldn’t have been half as exciting had you not gotten me interested in reading Daly after all these years. I bought a copy of Altus Press’s Them That Lives by Their Guns and have been enjoying Williams’ adventures ever since.

And Terry can strap on a roscoe-weighted holster and keep going, since the second volume of Race yarns just came out — under the title of nothing less than The Snarl of the Beast.



The blurb read, “Volume 2 contains the next batch of Race Williams stories, all from 1927–29 as Daly broke the mold of Black Mask by running serialized novels in the pages of that important magazine.”

And doing a little checking I see that they are now on Volume 5, where Daly moves his major series character over into the wood pulp pages of Dime Detective. Just released this month. Just Another Stiff. Sweet.

I had the thought of doing a major comparison of Hammett v. Daly, but then decided to save it for an essay I have in mind.

Some commentators had irked me by suggesting that the only way to survey Hammett in Black Mask was to break his run down by the editors of the moment — and that’s not a bad way to do it, if you must.

But I think another way is to watch how Hammett follows along in Daly’s wake, until finally he just smokes him. Daly instantly caught — created — the hard-boiled Private Eye template — detective, office, some drinking, one case after another — the fantasy that became Philip Marlowe and a legion of others — while Hammett mostly stuck with the more realistic casework of the Continental Op. Even when Hammett did buckle down to the form, the realism was leagues ahead of Daly — in short, Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon.

And another point that cannot be ignored is that Daly was the first to get his pulp novels reprinted as hardcover books — Snarl of the Beast in 1927. Hammett didn’t break that barrier until 1929.

Does anyone think that Hammett could have seen Daly cracking the book market and not felt he could do it, too?

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