As an operative for Pinkertonâe(tm)s Detective Agency Dashiell Hammett knew about sleuthing from the inside, but his career was cut short by the ruin of his health in World War I. These three celebrated novels are therefore the products of a hard real life, not a literary education. Despite âe" or because of âe" that, Hammett had an enormous effect on mainstream writers between the wars. Like his readers, they were attracted by the combination of laconic style, sharp convincing dialogue, vivid settings and, above all, the low-life, hard-boiled characters who populate the streets of his stories. Taking detective fiction out of the drawing-room, Hammett âe~gave murder back to the kind of people that commit itâe(tm), as Raymond Chandler said. In so doing, he left his mark on modern fiction.