Nathan Ward, 2015
New Release! I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for the purpose of review.
Premise: Everyone familiar with Hammett’s writing knows it was inspired by his time as a Pinkerton Detective. But what does that actually mean? Nathan Ward attempts to reconstruct Hammett’s pre-writing career and its impact.
There is very little confirmed material to work with, so the author has to rely on third-party recollections or examples from similar operatives and/or operations. He questions the truth of some of the more impressive stories Hammett told about his time with Pinkerton, but replaces the whiz-bang tales with a more grounded sense of the people and cases Hammett would have encountered and what published work they may have later inspired.
The portrait that emerges, of a man always working against the clock of his health, is a compelling one. I also really liked the actual corroborated stories of cases that Pinkerton operatives worked, whether Hammett was involved or not.
However, while I think it succeeded in its specific mandate, I might sometime like to read a more complete biography.
4 Stars - A Very Good Book