Red Harvest - Dashiell Hammett I keep vacillating from three to four stars on this. I recently finished The Maltese Falcon, which I loved, and quite a few people told me that if I loved Maltese Falcon I will love Red Harvest. I simply liked this one. Maltese Falcon was a tight mystery with a gritty but likable protagonist (Sam Spade) sparring with a few other well written character with some of the tightest dialogue this side of Shakespeare. Red Harvest had too many characters, too many jerky sub-plots, too many red herrings and a private investigator who could have used a lesson in style from Mr. Spade. Yet Hammett's writing and dialogue held me through it and is still a great reason for reading this novel.

The weird thing is that I kept thinking about Yojimbo, the Kurosawa film about a samurai who shows up in a corrupt village and destroys it by playing the people who run the town against each other. Yep. Same plot. A little research led me to discover that most scholars think Yojimbo was based on Red Harvest but Kurosawa denied it. This is the same Kurosawa that said his film Ran had nothing to do with King Lear, which is an amazing statement of the Brooklyn Bridge variety as in "If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you". For those not into Japanese film, High Plains Drifter with Clint Eastwood is loosely based on the same plot. My question is whether Hammett originated this modern theme. If so, Red Harvest deserves a place as a literary icon purely for that.