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Red Harvest (Anglais) Broché – 17 juillet 1989

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A WOMAN IN GREEN AND A MAN IN GRAY I first heard Personville called Poisonville by a red-haired mucker named Hickey Dewey in the Big Ship in Butte. He also called his shirt a shoit. I didn't think anything of what he had done to the city's name. Later I heard men who could manage their r's give it the same pronunciation. I still didn't see anything in it but the meaningless sort of humor that used to make richardsnary the thieves' word for dictionary. A few years later I went to Personville and learned better. Using one of the phones in that station, I called the Herald, asked for Donald Willsson, and told him I had arrived. "Will you come out to my house at ten this evening?" He had a pleansantly crisp voice. "It's 2101 Mountain Boulevard. Take a Broadway car, get off at Laurel Avenue, and walk two blocks west." I promised to do that. Then I rode up to the Great Western Hotel, dumped my bags, and went out to look at the city. The city wasn't pretty. Most of its builders had gone in for gaudiness. Maybe they had been successful at first. Since then the smelters whose brick stacks stuck up tall against a gloomy mountain to the south had yellow-smoked everything into uniform dinginess. The result was an ugly city of forty thousand people, set in an ugly notch between two ugly mountains that had been all dirtied up by mining. Spread over this was a grimy sky that looked as if it had come out of the smelters' stacks. The first policeman I saw needed a shave. The second had a couple of buttons off his shabby uniform. The third stood in the center of the city's main intersection--Broadway and Union Street--directing traffic, with a cigar in one corner of his mouth. After that I stopped checking them up. At nine-thirty I caught a Broadway car and followed the directions Donald Willsson had given me. They brought me to a house set in a hedged grassplot on a corner. The maid who opened the door told me Mr. Willsson was not home. While I was explaining that I had an appointment with him a slender blonde woman of something less than thirty in green crepe came to the door. When she smiled her blue eyes didn't lose their stoniness. I repeated my explanations to her. "My husband isn't in now." A barely noticeable accent slurred her s's. "But if he's expecting you he'll probably be home shortly." She took me upstairs to a room on the Laurel Avenue side of the house, a brown and red room with a lot of books in it. We sat in leather chairs, half facing each other, half facing a burning coal grate, and she set about learning my business with her husband. "Do you live in Personville?" she asked first. "No. San Francisco." "But this isn't your first visit?" "Yes." "Really? How do you like our city?" "I haven't seen enough of it to know." That was a lie. I had. "I got in only this afternoon." Her shiny eyes stopped prying while she said: "You'll find it a dreary place." She returned to her digging with: "I suppose all mining towns are like this. Are you engaged in mining?" "Not just now." She looked at the clock on the mantel and said: "It's inconsiderate of Donald to bring you out here and then keep you waiting, at this time of night, long after business hours." I said that was all right. "Though perhaps it isn't a business matter," she suggested. I didn't say anything. She laughed--a short laugh with something sharp in it. "I'm really not ordinarily so much of a busybody as you probably think," she said gaily. "But you're so excessively secretive that I can't help being curious. You aren't a bootlegger, are you? Donald changes them so often." I let her get whatever she could out of a grin. A telephone bell rang downstairs. Mrs. Willsson stretched her green-slippered feet out toward the burning coal and pretended she hadn't heard the bell. I didn't know why she thought that necessary. She began: "I'm afraid I'll ha--" and stopped to look at the maid in the doorway. The maid said Mrs. Willsson was wanted at the phone. She excused herself and followed the maid out. She didn't go downstairs, but spoke over an extension within earshot. I heard: "Mrs. Willsson speaking. . . . Yes. . . . I beg your pardon? . . . Who? . . . Can't you speak a little louder? . . . What? . . . Yes. . . . Yes. . . . Who is this? . . . Hello! Hello!" The telephone hook rattled. Her steps sounded down the hallway--rapid steps. I set fire to a cigarette and stared at it until I heard her going down the steps. Then I went to a window, lifted an edge of the blind, and looked out at Laurel Avenue, and at the square white garage that stood in the rear of the house on that side. Presently a slender woman in dark coat and hat came into sight hurrying from house to garage. It was Mrs. Willsson. She drove away in a Buick coupe. I went back to my chair and waited. Three-quarters of an hour went by. At five minutes after eleven, automobile brakes screeched outside. Two minutes later Mrs. Willsson came into the room. She had taken off hat and coat. Her face was white, her eyes almost black. "I'm awfully sorry," she said, her tight-lipped mouth moving jerkily, "but you've had all this waiting for nothing. My husband won't be home tonight." I said I would get in touch with him at the Herald in the morning. I went away wondering why the green toe of her left slipper was dark and damp with something that could have been blood. I walked over to Broadway and caught a street car. Three blocks north of my hotel I got off to see what the crowd was doing around a side entrance of the City Hall. Thirty or forty men and a sprinkling of women stood on the sidewalk looking at a door marked Police Department. There were men from mines and smelters still in their working clothes, gaudy boys from pool rooms and dance halls, sleek men with slick pale faces, men with the dull look of respectable husbands, a few just as respectable and dull women, and some ladies of the night. On the edge of this congregation I stopped beside a square-set man in rumpled gray clothes. His face was grayish too, even the thick lips, though he wasn't much older than thirty. His face was broad, thick-featured and intelligent. For color he depended on a red windsor tie that blossomed over his gray flannel shirt. "What's the rumpus?" I asked him. He looked at me carefully before he replied, as if he wanted to be sure that the information was going into safe hands. His eyes were gray as his clothes, but not so soft. "Don Willsson's gone to sit on the right hand of God, if God don't mind looking at bullet holes." "Who shot him?" I asked. The gray man scratched the back of his neck and said: "Somebody with a gun." I wanted information, not wit. I would have tried my luck with some other member of the crowd if the red tie hadn't interested me. I said: "I'm a stranger in town. Hang the Punch and Judy on me. That's what strangers are for." "Donald Willsson, Esquire, publisher of the Morning and Evening Heralds, was found in Hurricane Street a little while ago, shot very dead by parties unknown," he recited in a rapid sing-song. "Does that keep your feelings from being hurt?" "Thanks." I put out a finger and touched a loose end of his tie. "Mean anything? Or just wearing it?" "I'm Bill Quint." "The hell you are!" I exclaimed, trying to place the name. "By God, I'm glad to meet you!" I dug out my card case and ran through the collection of credentials I had picked up here and there by one means or another. The red card was the one I wanted. It identified me as Henry F. Neill, A. B. seaman, member in good standing of the Industrial Workers of the World. There wasn't a word of truth in it. I passed this card to Bill Quint. He read it carefully, front and back, returned it to my hand, and looked me over from hat to shoes, not trustfully. "He's not going to die any more," he said. "Which way you going?" "Any." We walked down the street together, turned a corner, aimlessly as far as I knew. "What brought you in here, if you're a sailor?" he asked casually. "Where'd you get that idea?" "There's the card." "I got another that proves I'm a timber beast," I said. "If you want me to be a miner I'll get one for that tomorrow." "You won't. I run 'em here." "Suppose you got a wire from Chi?" I asked. "Hell with Chi! I run 'em here." He nodded at a restaurant door and asked: "Drink?" "Only when I can get it." We went through the restaurant, up a flight of steps, and into a narrow second-story room with a long bar and a row of tables. Bill Quint nodded and said, "Hullo!" to some of the boys and girls at tables and bar, and steered me into one of the green-curtained booths that lined the wall opposite the bar. We spent the next two hours drinking whiskey and talking. The gray man didn't think I had any right to the card I had showed him, nor to the other one I had mentioned. He didn't think I was a good wobbly. As chief muckademuck of the I. W. W. in Personville, he considered it his duty to get the low-down on me, and to not let himself be pumped about radical affairs while he was doing it. That was all right with me. I was interested in Personville affairs. He didn't mind discussing them between casual pokings into my business with the red cards. What I got out of him amounted to this: For forty years old Elihu Willsson--father of the man who had been killed this night--had owned Personville, heart, soul, skin and guts. He was president and majority stockholder of the Personville Mining Corporation, ditto of the First National Bank, owner of the Morning Herald, and Evening Herald, the city's only newspapers, and at least part owner of nearly every other enterprise of any importance. Along with these pieces of property he owned a United States senator, a couple of representatives, the governor, the mayor, and most of the state legislature. Elihu Willisson was Personville, and he was almost the whole state. Back in the war days the I. W. W.--in full bloom then throughout the West--had lined up the Personville Mining Corporation's help. The help hadn't been exactly pampered. They used their new strength to demand the things they wanted. Old Elihu gave them what he had to give them, and bided his time. In 1921 it came. Business was rotten. Old Elihu didn't care whether he shut down for a while or not. he tore up the agreements he had made with his men and began kicking them back into their pre-war circumstances. Of course the help yelled for help. Bill Quint was sent out from I. W. W. headquarters in Chicago to given them some action. He was against a strike, an open walk-out. He advised the old sabotage racket, staying on the job and gumming things up from the inside. But that wasn't active enough for the Personville crew. They wanted to put themselves on the map, make labor history. They struck. The strike lasted eight months. Both sides bled plenty. The wobblies had to do their own bleeding. Old Elihu hired gunmen, strike-breakers, national guardsmen and even parts of the regular army, to do his. When the last skull had been cracked, the last rib kicked in, organized labor in Personville was a used firecracker. But, said Bill Quint, old Elihu didn't know his Italian history. He won the strike, but he lost his hold on the city and the state. To beat the miners he had to let his hired thugs run wild. When the fight was over he couldn't get rid of them. He had given his city to them and he wasn't strong enough to take it away from them. Personville looked good to them and they took it over. They had won his strike for him and they took the city for their spoils. He couldn't openly break with them. They had too much on him. He was responsible for all they had done during the strike. Bill Quint and I were both fairly mellow by the time we had got this far. He emptied his glass again, pushed his hair out of his eyes and brought his history up to date: "The strongest of 'em now is probably Pete the Finn. This stuff we're drinking's his. Then there's Lew Yard. He's got a loan shop down on Parker Street, does a lot of bail bond business, handles most of the burg's hot stuff, so they tell me, and is pretty thick with Noonan, the chief of police. This kid Max Thaler--Whisper--had got a lot of friends too. A little slick dark guy with something wrong with his throat. Can't talk. Gambler. Those three, with Noonan, just about help Elihu run his city--help him more than he wants. But he's got to play with 'em or else--" "This fellow who was knocked off tonight--Elihu's son--where did he stand?" I asked. "Where papa put him, and he's where papa put him now." "You mean the old man had him--?" "Maybe, but that's not my guess. This Don just came home and began running the papers for the old man. It wasn't like the old devil, even if he was getting close to the grave, to let anybody cop anything from him without hitting back. But he had to be cagey with these guys. He brought the boy and his French wife home from Paris and used him for his monkey--a damned nice fatherly trick. Don starts a reform campaign in the papers. Clear the burg of vice and corruption--which means clear it of Pete and Lew and Whisper, if it goes far enough. Get it? The old man's using the boy to shake 'em loose. I guess they got tired of being shook." "There seems to be a few things wrong with that guess," I said. "There's more than a few things wrong with everything in this lousy burg. Had enough of this paint?" I said I had. We went down to the street. Bill Quint told me he was living in the Miners' Hotel in Forest Street. His way home ran past my hotel, so we walked down together. In front of my hotel a beefy fellow with the look of a plain-clothes man stood on the curb and talked to the occupant of a Stutz touring car."That's Whisper in the car," Bill Quint told me.I looked past the beefy man and saw Thaler's profile. It was young, dark and small, with pretty features as regular as if they had been cut by a die."He's cute," I said."Uh-huh," the gray man agreed, "and so's dynamite."

Revue de presse

"An acknowledged literary landmark."  --NY Times Book Review.

"Dashiell Hammett is an original. He is a master of the detective novel, yes, but also one hell of a writer." -- Boston Globe

"Hammett's prose [is] clean and entirely unique. His characters [are] as sharply and economically defined as any in American fiction."

--The New York Times

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Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 224 pages
  • Editeur : Vintage; Édition : Reprint (17 juillet 1989)
  • Collection : Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0679722610
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679722618
  • Dimensions du produit: 13 x 1,5 x 20,3 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 3.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (3 commentaires client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 68.959 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par BREMOND Stevens Christophe le 27 juillet 2002
Format: Broché
Un détective de San Francisco débarque dans une petite bourgade, Poisonville, souillée par la corruption et autres combines. Sa tâche n'est pas mince puisque tout le monde y est corrompu, jusqu'au responsable de la police. S'enchaînent alors meurtres sur meurtres, pièges et règlements de compte multiples. Difficile de savoir qui tire les ficelles de tout ça mais, naturellement, la chute finale nous délivre la clé de l'énigme. Récit court conduit sur un rythme sec, dialogues rapides avec un peu de slang américain. Ce n'est certes pas aussi relevé ni dense qu'un Chester Himes mais on lit Red Harvest avec un grand plaisir, et une fois terminé, on se dit qu'on a passé un moment fort agréable avec l'un des fondateurs du roman noir américain. Ne pas hésiter, donc....
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Format: Broché Achat vérifié
j' attendais plus de ce livre qui a fait la gloire de D. Hammett. On comprend bien que le continental op dérape par dégoût del' atmosphère de "poisonville" et participe à l' exacerbation des conflits mais l' action, brute, qu' on peut apprécier plus dans d' autres opus, n' est pas soutenue par une analyse psychologique suffisamment fine des motivations
Bien meilleur souvenir de "the big knockover" et d' autres
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Par Piers A le 22 décembre 2012
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
This novel is limited to the noire tradition and particularly to the 'Hard-boiled Detective'. Hammett virtually invented this sub-genre but for readers who like a certain amount of subtlety in character portrayal this style is overly brutal and over-determined.
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Amazon.com: 141 commentaires
39 internautes sur 40 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Classic novel pits lone PI against the odds. 11 septembre 2002
Par Steven R. Harbin - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
Dashiell Hammett took the mystery story out of the drawing room and put it squarely into the American street with his stories of his nameless Continental Detective Agency Private Eye during the 1920's. Known as "the Continental Op" Hammett's hero, a short middle aged, slightly fattish loner was a break from the past as regards mystery stories. Hammett, along with Carroll John Daly and other BLACK MASK MAGAZINE pulp writers revolutionized the detective story with their gritty realism and adventurous stories of gats, guns, and molls.
RED HARVEST is probably the Continental Op's best know adventure, pitting him against the forces of corruption and crime in a small town named Personville. The Op calls the burg "Poisonville" and the cast of villainous characters that he encounters and goes up against make the nickname quite apt.
If you've seen the movies "A Fistful of Dollars", "Last Man Standing", or "Yojimbo" then you have a general idea of what the tale is about. While none of these follows Hammett's intricate plot, the premise of a lone gunman outsmarting and out dueling the whole town is what the story is about. From the time that the Op breezes into town to talk with his client, whom is murdered before the Op can ever meet with him, till the end of the story, there is lots of violence, murder, double dealing and cynical observations by the narrating detective. While we never learn very much about the Op his driven and unswerving dedication to riding the town of any and all opponents takes on the role of obsession and vigilantism by the end of the novel, so much so that the Op himself even begins to have some doubts. Not enough to stop him from completing the job however.
Hammett's spare lean style of writing isn't for everybody, especially those who want in-depth character studies where the protagonist spends a lot of time mulling over the state of the universe and his own personal angst. However if you want action and good tight writing then he's your man. A justly acclaimed classic ever since it came out, this novel is the one that started the "hard boiled" school of writing ball rolling.
39 internautes sur 41 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Hammett's First Novel is a Staple of Hard-Boiled Fiction. 25 février 2004
Par mirasreviews - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
"Red Harvest" was author Dashiell Hammett's first novel. The material was not entirely original; it first appeared in serial form in "Black Mask" magazine in 1927-1928 under the title "The Cleansing of Poisonville". Hammett reworked the story into novel form, and "Red Harvest" was published in 1929. This is also the first of Hammett's popular "Continental Op" novels, which feature an unnamed private detective employed by the Continental Detective Agency of San Francisco. "Red Harvest"'s narrator and veteran Continental operative defies any idea of a glamorous or attractive crime fighter. He's short, pot-bellied, alcoholic, and resolutely cynical. He's living in an immoral world, where success comes to those who fight fire with fire. Like all of Hammett's protagonists, he has little use for the law, but lives by a personal code to which he strictly adheres. That doesn't make him especially ethical, only principled. But Hammett's characters, like Hammett himself, are coping in their own way with the widespread corruption that ruled America's cities in the 1920s and 1930s.
"Red Harvest"'s opening paragraph is one of the best hooks I've ever read in a novel. It's fantastic. We are sucked into the mind of our narrator, the unnamed Continental operative, and we want only to read more about this man of such blunt wit. The Continental Op has been called to a town named Personville by the owner of the town's newspaper, Donald Willsson. He doesn't know what the job is, but before he can find out, the client is murdered. So the first order of business is to solve the murder. In doing so, our detective discovers how Personville got its nickname, Poisonville. Everything and everyone in this town is corrupt. Its citizens are ruled by bootleggers and low-lifes who retain their power through indiscriminate violence. Even the town's former boss, Elihu Willsson, a wealthy industrialist who was not above murder in his own day, is now reluctantly under the thumb of the new crop of thugs. Our detective takes offense at Poisonville's powers trying several times to assassinate him in the course of his murder investigation, so he decides to stay and clean up the place. Little did he expect that Poisonville's rampant bloodshed would poison him, as he is seduced by the town's murderous ways.
It's surprising to me that Dashiell Hammett wrote "Red Harvest" years before "The Thin Man". "Red Harvest"'s style seems more developed and its characters better drawn than in the later novel. That's not to say that I don't like "The Thin Man". I actually prefer its more scandalous brand of cynicism. Hammett is always cynical, but sociopathic behavior is to be expected from the characters that inhabit Personville's landscape. They are criminals and police officers (remember, this is the 1920s). The undeniably sociopathic behavior of everyone in "The Thin Man" -from small time con men, to respectable bourgeois, to Park Avenue blue bloods- is like a slap in the face. And so is the book's shameless lack of justice. But perhaps Hammett just chose a different shock tactic in "Red Harvest". The book's greatest cynicism is in the ease with which the Continental Op is seduced into abandoning his own code of conduct when faced with the opportunity to murder without consequences. That's why they call it Poisonville. Fans of noir detective stories wont' want to miss "Red Harvest". There are enough hard-boiled one-liners to inspire glee in those who really enjoy them. Hammett's style is fluid and easy to read. And there is more than one mystery to be solved.
11 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Murder, Mayhem, & Machiavellian Machinations 14 juillet 2000
Par George R Dekle - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
The Continental Op, an anonymous agent of the Continental Detective Agency, comes to corrupt Personville (aka Poisonville) and investigates a series of murders. In succession he confronts the murder of the publisher of the local paper, the murder of the police chief's brother, and the murder of a beautiful woman. The publisher's father, convinced that local gangsters are responsible for his son's death, employs the Op to break up the organized crime stranglehold on Personville. The Continental Op determines that he cannot quickly destroy the crimelords by lawful means, so he decides to work outside the law to destroy them. The murder of the police chief's son provides him with a golden opportunity to maneuver the rival gangs into lethal conflict. During these investigations, peripheral characters drop like flies as rival gangs feud over turf. The Continental Op continues his investigations, stirs up strife among the gangs, and tries to elude arrest himself as the dance of death lumbers to its bloody denouement. It is near impossible to keep an accurate bodycount through the course of the novel. Despite the carnage, the detective work is excellent, the intrigue is gripping, and the mysteries are satisfying.
This book inspired three movies: Akira Kurosawa's "Yojimbo," the Clint Eastwood oater "A Fistful of Dollars," and the Bruce Willis prohibition era epic "Last Man Standing." I haven't seen "Yojimbo," but the Eastwood and Willis movies hardly compare to "Red Harvest" for complexity and character development. They accentuate the bloodshed and virtually ignore everything else.
15 internautes sur 17 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Clearly Hammett's Best 29 mai 1999
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
Of all the books written by the chronological trio of Hammett, Chandler, and MacDonald, only Red Harvest seems as honest and truthful now as I am sure it did in 1939. Although Hammett lacks Chandler's writing flare and sarcasm, his style makes for fast-paced, edge of the seat reading. As his Continental Op escapes harrowing situation after another, I was left with a disbelief, but this novel is not about whether the Op could ruin an entire town with merely a scratch. It is instead a commentary on society, and on the cutthroat nature still evident in us all. In so many ways, this novel reminds me of Shirley Jackson's haunting story "The Lottery" because the evil in our world is within the system, and in each person. Just as the Op confesses to wanting to join the killing spree, Hammett has made us want to read about more killing. He dupes us into playing the Op's game. This novel is so much deeper than what can be read in the text. In his own way, he tells us to look out for a system corrupted by greed and a quest for power. Much like Chandler, Hammett always has a message. Heed this one readers, but enjoy the enchantment of this amazing novel.
11 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Corruption's stench: "I had gone off the edge of the roof" 5 juin 2004
Par D. Cloyce Smith - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
Between 1915 and 1922, Dashiell Hammett worked for the Pinkerton Detective Agency, initially from Baltimore's Continental Building office and later in Washington State and California. His experiences for the firm provided the background and the name for the Continental Detective Agency that features in most of his stories and in two of his novels (including "Red Harvest"), and Pinkerton operative James Wright served as the model for the "fat, middle-aged, hard-boiled, pig-headed guy" referred to only as the Continental Op.
In "Red Harvest," the Op is summoned to Personville (known locally as Poisonville), where he is engaged by newspaper publisher Donald Willson, who is murdered before the agent has an opportunity to meet him. At first the novel feels like a traditional murder mystery; in its first half there are two homicides (among more than two dozen gangland-style assassinations) whose clues are scattered for the reader--and the Op--to solve.
Yet the two whodunits are red herrings meant to distract--and entertain--the reader (and crime novel aficionados will figure both of them out within a few paragraphs). Not just a murder mystery, "Red Harvest" pursues broader themes: how corruption and greed poisons the inhabitants of Poisonville, how the Op is able to thwart the ambitions of various criminals by playing their own unprincipled game, and how his own abandonment of professional code nearly destroys the detective himself.
Most of the crooks are stock figures from noir central casting, but the novel's femme fatale, Dinah Brand, is the most memorable. She serves not only as foil to the Op's passionless cynicism but also as a warning to the dangers of the sport: like the Op, she insinuates herself into whichever camp is in control, never dirtying her own hands with the unsavory activities that bring her the money she voraciously accumulates--only to find herself expendable when no faction needs her at all.
During a flirtatious rendezvous with Dinah, the Op slips into a laudanum-induced dream, in which he imagines himself "hunting for a man I hated. I had an open knife in my pocket and meant to kill him." He finds the man and pursues him across a rooftop, where they tussle near the building's edge, only to realize "that I had gone off the edge of the roof with him." When he awakes, The Op--and the reader--discovers just how near the edge of precipice he has crawled, and the remainder of this perceptive book recounts his journey back from the brink.
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