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The Dain Curse

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Language  English
Followed by  The Maltese Falcon
Author  Dashiell Hammett
Adaptations  The Dain Curse (1978)
Genres  Mystery, Crime Fiction
3.8/5 Goodreads

Media type  Print (hardcover)
Originally published  1 January 1928
Preceded by  Red Harvest
Country  United States of America
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Similar  Dashiell Hammett books, Crime Fiction books

Literature help novels plot overview 339 the dain curse

The Dain Curse is a novel by Dashiell Hammett, published in 1929. Before its publication in book form, it was serialized in Black Mask magazine in 1928 and 1929.


Serial publication

The Dain Curse was originally serialized in four installments in the pulp magazine Black Mask:

  • Part 1: "Black Lives" (Black Mask, November 1928)
  • Part 2: "The Hollow Temple" (Black Mask, December 1928)
  • Part 3: "Black Honeymoon" (Black Mask, January 1929)
  • Part 4: "Black Riddle" (Black Mask, February 1929)
  • Plot summary

    The detective known only as The Continental Op investigates a theft of diamonds from the Leggett family of San Francisco. The plot involves a supposed curse on the Dain family, said to inflict sudden and violent deaths upon those in their vicinity. Edgar Leggett's wife is a Dain, as is his daughter Gabrielle Leggett. The detective untangles a web of robberies, lies and murder. It is discovered that Gabrielle Leggett is also involved in a mysterious religious cult and is addicted to drugs.

    Gabrielle escapes from the cult and marries her fiancé, but bloodshed continues to follow them. The Continental Op protects Gabrielle and helps her recover from her morphine addiction. He finally discovers the reason behind all the mysterious, violent events surrounding Gabrielle and the Dains. The novel is structured in three parts, each concerning different mysteries—Part One, The Dains; Part Two, The Temple; and Part Three, Quesada.

    Characters in The Dain Curse

  • The Continental Op – private detective (called in the miniseries "Hamilton Nash")
  • Madison Andrews – Leggett's attorney
  • Claude Baker – witnessed Gabrielle driving away in Quesada
  • Mrs. Begg – the Leggetts' former servant
  • Eric Carter – Collinson's alias in Quesada
  • Ralph Coleman – member of Temple of the Holy Grail cult
  • Eric Collinson – Gabrielle's fiancé, employed at Spear, Camp and Duffy
  • Hubert Collinson – Eric's father
  • Laurence Collinson – Eric's older brother
  • Dick Cotton – Quesada marshal
  • Alice Dain – Mrs. Leggett's maiden name
  • Lily Dain – Alice's sister, Gabrielle's mother
  • Warren Daley – the Leggetts' neighbor
  • Debro – "Carters'" nearest neighbor in Quesada
  • Sheriff Feeney – in Quesada
  • Mrs. Fink – employee at Temple of the Holy Grail
  • Tom Fink – Special effects man at Temple of the Holy Grail
  • Owen Fitzstephan – a writer and friend of Nash's
  • Dick Foley – Continental detective
  • Big-foot Gerber – cigar store owner
  • Aaronia Haldorn – Joseph's wife
  • Joseph Haldorn – head of Temple of the Holy Grail cult
  • Manuel Haldorn – Joseph and Aaronia's son
  • Watt Halstead – of Halstead and Beauchamp, a jeweler
  • Mr. & Mrs. Harper – Gabrielle's mysterious friends
  • Minnie Hershey – the Leggett's servant
  • Jacques Labaud – Mayenne/Leggett's fellow convict/escapee
  • Gabrielle Leggett – daughter of Edgar Leggett
  • Edgar Leggett – Gabrielle's father, a scientist
  • Mrs. Leggett, née Alice Dain
  • Mickey Linehan – Continental operative
  • Walter Martin – Mayenne/Leggett's alias
  • Al Mason – Continental operative
  • Maurice Pierre de Mayenne – Edgar Legett's real name
  • Mary Nunez – "Carters'" servant
  • O'Gar – homicide detail detective sergeant, San Francisco Police Department
  • Mrs. Priestly – neighbor of the Leggetts
  • Pat Reddy – O'Gar's partner, San Francisco Police Department
  • Dr. Riese – Ddoctor responding to finding of Leggett's body, Gabrielle's doctor
  • Mrs. Livingston Rodman – Member of Temple of the Holy Grail cult
  • Ben Rolly – Quesada deputy sheriff
  • Harry Ruppert – Upton's employee
  • Rhino Tingley – Minnie's boyfriend
  • Louis Upton – private detective from New York
  • Vernon – Quesada district attorney
  • Harve Whidden – witness who saw Gabrielle and a man driving away in Quesada
  • TV mini-series adaptation

    The novel was adapted into a CBS television miniseries in 1978, by director E.W. Swackhamer and producer Martin Poll, which starred James Coburn (as the Op, given the name "Hamilton Nash" for this film version), Hector Elizondo (as Ben Feeney), Jean Simmons (as Aaronia Haldorn), Jason Miller (as Owen Fitzstephan), Beatrice Straight (as Alice Leggett), Paul Stewart (as the old man), Nancy Addison (as Gabrielle Leggett), Tom Bower (as Sergeant O'Gar), David Canary (as Jack Santos), Beeson Carroll (as Marshall Cotton), Roland Winters (as Hubert Collinson) and a pre-Star Trek Brent Spiner (as Tom Fink). It received three Emmy Award nominations (one for the director). The script, by Robert W. Lenski, won the 1978 Edgar Award for Best Television Feature or Miniseries. An edited version of the series was released on VHS in the 1990s; a complete, full-length, two-disc DVD edition is available.


    The Dain Curse Wikipedia