Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Continental Op meets "The Whosis Kid"

Last week (beginning HERE) I posted covers from 27 of the 28 magazines where Continental Op stories first appeared. The only one missing was the March 1925 issue of Black Mask, featuring "The Whosis Kid." Well, I am mighty dang pleased to report that, thanks to Mr. Paul Herman, we can now gaze upon that cover too. We - and Internet trollers for years to come - are greatly in his debt. 

The scene above is similar to one in the story. The Op is lying on the floor of a dark room, waiting for the Whosis Kid to enter. The Kid does, shots are exchanged, and (SPOILER ALERT!) the Kid winds up dead. The guy on the cover is probably meant to be the Kid. 

This story, along with introducing a disfunctional gang of criminals who would later provide the model for those dragging Sam Spade into the search for the Maltese Falcon, produced a lot of great Hammett lines. Here are but a few:

"I haven't had my teeth in anything except my mouth since seven-thirty this morning."

All day I had been building up hunger. I took it in into the grillroom and turned it loose.

I drove around the block, with an eye in each direction for the Cadillac. Neither eye found it.

I tried to look trusting and credulous. I expected to disbelieve everything she said.

A woman says of her cigarettes:
"I have a Hindu incense mixed with the tobacco."
I didn't say anything to that. It was what you would expect of a woman who would dye her dog purple.

Later, she says:
“It is a wonder I am not insane.”
I could have told her she wasn’t far enough from it to do much bragging.

If everybody got together here, maybe whatever was going on would come out where I could see it and understand it.

I don’t know whether he believed the Kid’s words or not, but he believed the Kid’s guns. You can get a bullet out of a cocked revolver a lot quicker than out of a hammerless automatic.

One chirp out of you and I’ll tie a knot in your neck.

The room was the inside of a black drum on which a giant was beating the long roll. Four guns worked together in a prolonged throbbing roar. 

Great stuff!


Charles Gramlich said...


Keith West said...

Great lines. The Op has always been one of my favorites. I need to back and reread these stories. Thanks for this series of posts.

Richard said...

Yeppers, fine stuff. I briefly fondled the collection of Op stories yesterday, but I'm trying to get a few library books finished and returned.