Hidden Hammett short story to be published

Tue Mar 1, 2011 12:59pm EST
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A previously unpublished short story by acclaimed U.S. crime writer Dashiell Hammett will appear in The Strand Magazine later this week, its managing editor Andrew Gulli said on Tuesday.

But 14 other stories which he discovered while researching the author at the University of Texas will remain unseen, he said, after Hammett's estate decided not to publish them.

"So I Shot Him" revolves around the character Rainey, who challenges Linn to overcome his irrational fear of water with surprising consequences.

Gulli came across the tale at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, which held dozens of stories and fragments by an author credited with creating the "hard-boiled" detective story also championed by Raymond Chandler.

Chandler once wrote: "Hammett gave murder back to the kind of people that commit it for reasons, not just to provide a corpse."

Gulli spent weeks cross-referencing what he found with what had been published, and had "that eureka moment" when he discovered that 15 of the pieces had not been published before.

He approached Hammett's estate, and they allowed him to print So I Shot Him in The Strand Magazine, which has brought to light previously unseen works by authors including Agatha Christie, Graham Greene and Mark Twain.

"What I liked about these stories was that they had a lot of great elements of Dashiell Hammett, but a lot of them had things that were different and experimental and gripping in my view," Gulli said in a telephone interview.   Continued...