What the hell do you mean by “Hard-boiled,” for that matter?

Sadly, the original content for this page has gone missing. It featured, of course, some of the pithiest and most clever definitions of “hard-boiled” ever committed to the web by some of the best brains in the genre. The search continues, but in the mean time, here’s the best example of hard-boiled writing I could find. If you can find a better one, let me know…

“Keep coming, I said, “and I’ll put you down”

“Try it.” He took another step, crouching a little. “I can still get you with slugs in me.”

“Not where I’ll put them.” I was wordy, trying to talk him into waiting till the others came up. I didn’t want to have to kill him. We could have done that from the taxi. “I’m no Annie Oakley, but if I can’t pop your kneecaps with two shots from this distance, you’re welcome to me. And if you think smashed kneecaps are a lot of fun, give it a whirl.”

“Hell with that,” he said and charged.

I shot his right knee.

He lurched toward me.

I shot his left knee.

He tumbled down.

“You would have it,” I complained.

He twisted around, and with his arms pushed himself into a sitting position facing me.

“I didn’t think you had sense enough to do it,” he said through his teeth.

— from “Fly Paper” by Dashiell Hammett, featuring The Continental Op.


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