The Creeping Siamese by Dashiell Hammett


Mystery short story with the nameless detective, “The Continental Op”.


Mystery short story with the nameless detective, “The Continental Op”.

The title story, which appeared in the March 1926 Black Mask without the “The” in front of it, is one of three tales featuring our short stocky hero, the Continental Op. In context of the story, the title makes more sense without the “The.” As is, you might think someone is about to fall victim to a sneaky kitty-cat. Actually, the Siamese of the title are believed to be merciless knife-artists from Siam.

This is a fine little tale, with the added interest that it foreshadows still another scene from The Maltese Falcon. The story opens with a man entering the Continental Detective Agency office and dropping dead on the floor. In the course of the investigation, the Op is told that the dead man was recently in possession of a mysterious package, and that other mysterious characters were trying to take it away from him. The package is described as being about the size of a loaf of bread, but quite heavy for it’s size. It’s wrapped in brown paper, with an inner wrapping of canvas, and tied with a silk cord. Can you say dingus?


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