Red Harvest: Book Review

Today, we will be review the 1929 hardboiled novel Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett. The protagonist investigates several murders in a small town as he tries to get rid of the crooks. Keep reading to find out what we thought of the novel and if you should read it next!

Red Harvest Summary

Protagonist The Continental Op is hired for a job in Personville (called Poisonville by locals) but the person he is supposed to meet. Donald Willsson, is killed. The protagonist then decided to solve the murder of Willsson, being hired by his father. He also promises to clean the town, getting rid of all the criminals once and for all.

The murder of Willsson leads to the protagonist investigating the many shady characters in Poisonville. One of them is Dinah Brand, supposedly a love interest of Willsson. Dinah is mixed with a bunch of crooks and knows information on what goes on in town.

Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett book review

To get rid of the criminals in Poisionville, the protagonist decided to chaos havoc among members of the mob. But these mobsters and crooked criminals won’t go down without a fight. As the days go on, more and more people get killed, revealing just why this town is called Poisonville.


Red Harvest was originally serialized and published in four installments, from November 1927 to February 1928. I can imagine the anticipation for them was off the charts. Hammett is credited as being one of the authors to popularize hardboiled fiction.

Unlike mystery and detective novels from Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle, this novel and other hardboiled fiction novels are bloody and messy. While reading this book, I was surprised by the fast pace, one murder after another. There are tons of subplots and if you think of them as four mini stories that are going to be consumed a month apart, it makes a bit more sense.

Many hardboiled fiction novels were published in magazines before eventually being published as books. The books often times went through a lot of changes.

Hammett’s storytelling would make for a great TV show. There is a lot of going on and he does a great job of connecting it all. My only complaint is that there are too many characters. It is hard to remember who killed who and the multitude of grudges.


Hammett is considered one of the best mystery writers of all time. This novel showcases his talent in creating stories that are complex and yet still interesting. If you enjoy detective novels, then Red Harvest is for you. Happy reading!

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