->''Hammett took murder out of the Venetian vase and dropped it into the alley ... . He wrote at first (and almost to the end) for people with a sharp, aggressive attitude to life. They were not afraid of the seamy side of things; they lived there. Violence did not dismay them; it was right down their street.''
-->-- '''Creator/RaymondChandler''', [[http://www.en.utexas.edu/amlit/amlitprivate/scans/chandlerart.html "The Simple Art of Murder"]]

Samuel Dashiell Hammett (May 27, 1894 January 10, 1961) was a pioneering writer of HardboiledDetective fiction. His stories were backed up by personal experience; he had been a PinkertonDetective himself. He left the job after refusing to assassinate a union leader, an event that marked much of his life and politics. He was a Marxist and this, despite his popularity, led to him being a victim of the blacklists.

Hammett's first major character was Literature/TheContinentalOp, an anonymous operative of the Continental Detective Agency, who first appeared in print in 1923 and went on to feature in over 30 stories and two novels, ''Literature/RedHarvest'' and ''Literature/TheDainCurse''. ''Red Harvest'' is thought to have been an influence on Creator/AkiraKurosawa's film ''Film/{{Yojimbo}}'', and combined with ''The Glass Key'' is a heavy influence on Coen Brothers's noir film ''Film/MillersCrossing''. The Coen Brothers also named their film debut ''Film/BloodSimple'' after an expression coined in ''Red Harvest''; the phrase refers to the addled, fearful mindset people are in after a prolonged immersion in violent situations.

Hammett's third novel, ''Literature/TheMalteseFalcon'', introduced the world to prototypical private eye Sam Spade, and is perhaps his single most famous work, though many people [[AdaptationDisplacement know it only via]] [[Film/TheMalteseFalcon the 1941 film version]] starring Creator/HumphreyBogart, which is one of the defining examples of FilmNoir.

His fourth novel, ''The Glass Key'', was adapted for film several times, is another influence on Kurosawa and the Coens, and has a crime fiction award named after it.[[note]]The Glass Key award is maintained by the Crime Writers of Scandinavia; recipients include ''Literature/MissSmillasFeelingForSnow'' and ''[[Literature/TheMillenniumTrilogy The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo]]''.[[/note]]

His fifth and final novel, ''Literature/TheThinMan'', received a LighterAndSofter [[Film/TheThinMan film adaptation]] starring Creator/WilliamPowell and Myrna Loy, which launched a popular film series.

Interestingly, he also teamed up with ''ComicStrip/FlashGordon'' artist Alex Raymond on a newspaper comic called ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secret_Agent_X-9 Secret Agent X-9]]''; while it was not a success for him (he left after the first year), it carried on with other writers and artists until 1996.

In 1982, the German director Creator/WimWenders made a BiographyAClef ''Hammett'' (produced by Creator/FrancisFordCoppola) which casts the author in a mystery that ends up a pastiche of his most famous stories, as an {{Homage}} to the man.

Hammett was played by Jason Robards in the 1977 film ''{{Film/Julia}}'', which was adapted from the memoirs of his longtime lover Creator/LillianHellman.
!!Works by Dashiell Hammett with their own trope pages include:

* Literature/TheContinentalOp series
** ''Literature/RedHarvest''
** ''Literature/TheDainCurse''
* ''Literature/TheMalteseFalcon''
* ''Literature/TheThinMan''

!!Other works by Dashiell Hammett provide examples of:

* AntiHero
* BlownAcrossTheRoom: Though Hammett worked as a PinkertonDetective and had firearms training from his military service, he happily embraced this trope for dramatic effect.
* CaneFu: Steve Threefall, the protagonist of "Nightmare Town", always carries a straight cane, weighted at both ends, and uses it to defend himself multiple times, with great effect.
* FemmeFatale[=/=]TheVamp: Several of each over various stories.
* AFistfulOfRehashes: ''Literature/RedHarvest'' and ''Literature/TheGlassKey''
* GambitPileup: Hammett loved double, triple, and higher multiple crosses-- see ''Literature/RedHarvest'', "Nightmare Town", "The Whosis Kid", "The Big Knockover" and its sequel, "$106,000 Blood Money".
* HardboiledDetective: One of the {{Trope Codifier}}s.
* OutlawTown: "Nightmare Town" and ''Literature/RedHarvest''.
* PrivateDetective: some of his detectives didn't quite fit the {{hardboiled|Detective}} category.
* PrivateMilitaryContractors: A lesser known aspect of Hammett, especially in ''Red Harvest'', is that he emphasizes the role of Pinkerton agents and law enforcement as serving just like this for the wealthy classes.
* PunchedAcrossTheRoom: Also shows up from time to time.
* SelfPlagiarism: Some have noted that ''The Maltese Falcon'' in particular draws on ideas from some of Hammett's previous works.
* StealthParody: Hammett wrote the novella ''Nightmare Town'' in response to the two-fisted non-stop violence that he saw pervading the genre of detective fiction. It opens with a woman almost being run over and ends with an entire city exploding in flames. He may have failed because, while it is no where near the quality of his usual work, ''Nightmare Town'' is gorgeously written and certainly a cut above the works he was lampooning.
* SurvivalMantra: In ''The Glass Key'', [[TheDragon Ned]] [[AntiVillain Beaumont]] has, "I can take whatever I've got to take."
* TownWithADarkSecret: "Nightmare Town" seems like a weird town where people act strange, there seem to be more houses than people, and the guy running the town is openly threatened by his son. [[spoiler:The secret is that it's run by, and for, murderers and thieves, and the protagonist happens to get there a few days before the place is burned down for the insurance money. It's one of the few examples where the secret ''isn't'' supernatural, and yet still manages to be just as nightmarish.]] Only a handful of people ''don't'' know the secret.
* TwilightOfTheOldWest[=/=]NewOldWest: "The Man Who Killed Dan Odams" is a Hammett short story that carries the conventions of TheWestern into the Twentieth Century. "Nightmare Town" and "Literature/RedHarvest" both have Western aspects, and the latter inspired the outright Western film ''Film/AFistfulOfDollars''. Literature/TheContinentalOp story "Corkscrew" is also a good example.