“You might as well take your punishment and get it over with": First Edition of Dashiell Hammett's The Glass Key; Inscribed by Him
The Glass Key.
Item Number: 43044
New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1931.
First edition of Hammett’s personal favorite novel. Octavo, original pale green cloth. Inscribed by the author on the front free endpaper: “For Ben Lyon and Bebe Daniels with best regards — Dashiell Hammett, Hollywood, August, 1931.” The recipient, Ben Lyon and his wife Bebe Daniels were famous movie actors of the day. Their careers stretching from the early silent era to the TV series Life with the Lyons in the mid-1950s. Daniels starred in the well received 1931 film version of The Maltese Falcon, playing the role of Ruth Wonderly. After serialization in Black Mask, March to June, 1930. Small repair to the spine, an excellent example in a later dust jacket with blurbs regarding the book (by Woollcott, Parker, and F.P.A.) on the front flap, the jacket identical with that for the first printing except for the flaps. A remarkable association, rare and desirable signed and inscribed by Hammett.
“The Glass Key spins a more ambitious and unusual web whose threads are male friendship, male loyalty and male betrayal, and considers the ultimate treachery — the murder of a son by his father... In Ned Beaumont — principled, forlorn, afflicted with an uneasy worldliness and the ability to understand the meaner motives and ambitions of friends, and tubercular — Hammett produced his nearest self-portrait” (Diane Johnson, Dashiell Hammett: A Life, 1987, pp. 86-7). It was first published as a serial in Black Mask magazine in 1930, then was collected in 1931 (in London; the American edition followed 3 months later) It tells the story of a gambler and racketeer, Ned Beaumont, whose devotion to a crooked political boss, Paul Madvig, leads him to investigate the murder of a local senator's son as a potential gang war brews. Hammett dedicated the novel to his onetime lover Nell Martin. There have been two film adaptations (1935 and 1942) of the novel. A radio adaptation starring Orson Welles aired on March 10, 1939, as part of his Campbell Playhouse program. The book was also a major influence on the Coen brothers' 1990 film Miller's Crossing, about a gambler who is a right-hand man to a corrupt political boss and their involvement in a brewing gang war.