Dashiell Hammett is the true inventor of modern detective fiction and the creator of the private eye, the isolated hero in a world where treachery is the norm. The Continental Op was his great first contribution to the genre and these seven stories, which first appeared in the magazine Black Mask, are the best examples of Hammett's early writing, in which his formidable literary and moral imagination is already operating at full strength. The Continental Op is the dispassionate fat man working for the Continental Detective Agency, modelled on the Pinkerton Agency, whose only interest is in doing his job in a world of violence, passion, desperate action and great excitement.
Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961) was born in Maryland and worked in a number of menial jobs until he became an operative for the Pinkerton Detective Agency. His experiences as a private detective laid the foundations for his writing career. His work includes Red Harvest, The Maltese Falcon, The Glass Key, The Thin Man and some eighty short stories, mostly published in Black Mask magazine.