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Dashiell Hammetts San Francisco A Unique Setting in the Changing World of Early 20th Century Detective Fiction The Pacific coast port city of San Francisco California provides a distinctively mysterious backdrop in Dashiell Hammetts The Maltese Falcon Unlike many other detective stories that are anchored in well-known metropolises such as Los Angeles or New York City Hammett opted to place the events of his text in the lesser-known yet similarly exotic cultural confines of San Francisco Hammett used his own intricate knowledge of the San Francisco Bay Area - coupled with details collected during a stint as a detective for the now defunct Pinkerton Agency - to craft a distinctive brand of detective fiction that thrived on such an original setting Paul 93 By examining the setting of 1920s San Francisco in The Maltese Falcon it becomes apparent that one of Hammetts literary strengths was his exceptional ability to intertwine non-fictional places with a fictional plot and characters in order to produce a logical and exceedingly believable detective mystery Dashiell Hammett called the San Francisco area home from 1920 until 1936 For a portion of those fourteen years he shared an apartment on Eddy Street with his first wife Josephine Dolan This apartment was located very near the San Francisco Public Library on Larkin Street where in 1921 Hammett first conceived the idea of his writing detective fiction San Francisco historian and author Don Freeman explains In the library he would read the magazines and the books and one day after reading several detective yarns he said I can do that The truth is he could And he did He wrote for Black Mask a pulp detective magazine and then as his skills increased he began to write novels It was in this library that Dashiell Hammett saw his future 79 Hammett contributed stories to Black Mask for ten years until The Maltese Falcon gained public and literary acclaim Many of the
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