Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Hammett’s writing style also elevates his work beyond its start in the pulp magazines. A model of leanness and economy, Hammett’s prose has served as a guide for many later writers. These include Raymond Chandler and Ross Macdonald, who went on to continue successfully the tradition of “hardboiled” detective stories. Hammett’s style remains a fine model for young writers, particularly those who strive for clarity and who wish to produce a compelling narrative.

Indeed, Hammett’s prose lent itself well to the conventions of the detective story, always keeping the reader interested and in suspense, yet moving along quickly enough so that readers would not become impatient. One of Hammett’s techniques for accomplishing this was his masterful use of dialogue. Hammett’s story lines are often advanced efficiently by conversation between characters, and Hammett’s detectives most often seek truth by asking people questions. “The House in Turk Street” is no exception in this regard, though for much of this particular story, the Op is reduced to being a spectator.