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Glossary and Character Taxonomy  Breakdown by Country of Origin   Bibliography   Table of Contents

Continental Op. The Continental Op was created by “Peter Collinson,” the pseudonym of Dashiell Hammett (Nick and Nora Charles, Secret Agent X-9, Sam Spade), and appeared in thirty-six short stories and seven novels and short story collections from 1923 to 1947, beginning with “Arson Plus” (Black Mask, Oct. 1, 1923). The Continental Op, who is never otherwise named, is a heavy forty-something agent of the Continental Detective Agency in San Francisco. The Op’s cases take him to a range of locales in the western part of the United States, where he usually successfully resolves the cases through guile and violence. He works well with the police and avoids getting involved with the people on his cases. The Op has a strict code of ethics, and although he is cynical and realistic about his work he does not break the code. As a detective he relies on a knowledge of people more than deduction or the evidence available.

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