Literature / The Dain Curse

The Dain Curse is a 1929 detective novel by Dashiell Hammett, featuring The Continental Op.

The Op investigates a complicated web involving robbery, murder, cults, psychosis, and drug addiction enmeshing Gabrielle Leggett, who believes she is the inheritor of a curse on her mother's family.

Adapted as a TV mini-series in 1978, with James Coburn in the lead role.

The Dain Curse provides examples of:

  • A God Am I: Joseph.
  • Cartwright Curse: Apparently one of the symptoms of the Dain Curse.
  • Evil Redhead: Fitzstephan.
  • Gaslighting
  • Noble Demon: Gabrielle's opinion of the Op boils down to this.
  • Rasputinian Death: Joseph takes a gun full of bullets and knife through the neck before he goes down.
  • Red Right Hand: Gabrielle believes her pointed ears and small facial features are signs of evil.
  • Uncanny Valley: invoked Hammett gives a pretty good description of the phenomenon almost 50 years before it was named:
    "There was warmth and there was beauty in her olive-skinned face, but except for the eyes, it was warmth and beauty that didn't seem to have anything to do with reality. It was as if her face were not a face, but a mask that she had worn until it had almost become a face. Even her mouth, which was a mouth to talk about, looked not so much like flesh as like a too perfect imitation of flesh, softer and redder and maybe warmer than genuine flesh, but not genuine flesh."
  • You're Insane!

The TV adaptation provides examples of: