Sunday, April 24, 2011

Red Harvest

I seem to be on a roll least comparatively.

Every now and then, I get a hankering for a detective novel. Detective novels and spy novels seem to be my go-to "easy read" - really, the only kind of easy read I bother with.

So, in my recent reading slump, I've been looking for anything I can sink my teeth into. In such slumps, I have two choices - keep reading something, which generally means the light stuff. Or else delve into something extremely contemplative and deep. Not Finnegan's Wake, but something French or Eastern European. In this particular slump, I just don't have the patience for the contemplative and deep. So, fluff it is. Enter the detective novel.

Red Harvest has been on my TBR list for a bit. Something about the title was intriguing, and I suppose I was hoping the protangonist would be picking up communists. It started out with a communist - or at least a labor organizer (what's the difference, right? j/k), but that plot line didn't get very far. I think the "red" referred to all the blood. Because there was an awful lot of dead people.

Generally I did not like RH as much as I recall liking The Maltese Falcon (or did I only like that because it gave me time to think about Humphrey Bogart?), nor as much as I liked some of the works by Chandler and others that I’ve read in the past. Red Harvest was too complicated – too man similar characters shifting loyalties, such that in the I end I couldn’t tell you who killed whom. It also felt a bit amateurish - it was Hammett's first novel, so hopefully that is his excuse. I finished the book about a week and a half ago and I don't even remember any of the character's names. I tried to follow it up with Hammett's The Glass Key, but quickly realized I had had enough for now.

Whatever it was about the novel, though, it seems to have worked as a tonic for my non-reading disease. I think I've been cured!


SocrGirl said...

I blame your reading slump on the books you have left on the list. :) If you have to choose one, pick up Death of the Heart. I enjoyed it immensely. I also just finished From Here to Eternity today and although it was long, it had some profound things to say. I've had quite a few reading slumps since I started the list, one of which caused me to start a nonfiction blog and another of which had me reading the Stieg Larsson trilogy. I hope you get over your slump soon!

Kristin said...

I'm actually looking forward to reading Parade's End since I loved Ford's The Good Soldier. From Here to Eternity feels like a summer book, so in two or three months I might pick it up. Lately I haven't been concerned about the list...when I get to it, I get to it!