Synopses & Reviews
In The Best American Mystery Stories of the Century
, best-selling author Tony Hillerman and mystery expert Otto Penzler present an unparalleled treasury of American suspense fiction that every fan will cherish.
Offering the finest examples from all reaches of the genre, this collection charts the mystery's eminent history from the turn-of-the-century puzzles of Futrelle, to the seminal pulp fiction of Hammett and Chandler, to the mystery story's rise to legitimacy in the popular mind, a trend that has benefited masterly writers like Westlake, Hunter, and Grafton. Nowhere else can readers find a more thorough, more engaging, more essential distillation of American crime fiction.
Penzler, the Best American Mystery Stories series editor, and Hillerman winnowed this select group out of a thousand stories, drawing on sources as diverse as Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and Esquire, Collier's and The New Yorker. Giants of the genre abound Raymond Chandler, Stephen King, Dashiell Hammett, Lawrence Block, Ellery Queen, Sara Paretsky, and others but the editors also unearthed gems by luminaries rarely found in suspense anthologies: William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, Damon Runyon, Harlan Ellison, James Thurber, and Joyce Carol Oates. Mystery buffs and newcomers alike will delight in the thrilling stories and top-notch writing of a hundred years' worth of the finest suspense, crime, and mystery writing.
"[T]he editors have included 47 stories without a single clunker, and with several unexpected pleasures: Wilbur Daniel Steele's tale of three brothers, one wife, and one horse; Stephen King's plan to stop smoking; Sue Grafton's prowess with a shotgun. And fans will be happy to see entries by O. Henry, Ring Lardner, James M. Cain, MacDonald and Macdonald, Evan Hunter, Margaret Millar, Shirley Jackson, Harlan Ellison, and relative newcomers like Brendan DuBois, Michael Malone, and Dennis Lehane....The biggest problem with this behemoth is that no lap is big enough to hold it." Kirkus Reviews
"Just when it seemed safe to think we were through with 'best of the century' compilations, here comes one more but a very good one....Hillerman and Penzler...prove more than equal to the challenge [of compling such a widely divergent a group of styles]. Hillerman's selections cross all the borders, paying appropriate homage to the early giants of the American mystery (O. Henry, Ellery Queen) and the hard-boiled masters (Hammett, Chandler, Cain) but devoting plenty of space to the post-1950 set....The best read of the lot: Michael Malone's superb 'Red Clay,' a melancholy jewel in which there is no wrong word." Bill Ott, Booklist
"[This] book offers pleasures aplenty." The New York Times
"In his foreword, Penzler entertainingly describes the formidable and sometimes subjective process of winnowing thousands of possible stories to a manageable number. Hillerman, meanwhile, who made the final selection, comments in his introduction on the genre's evolution from puzzle mystery for an elite readership 100 years ago to something much more substantial and democratic today, taking issue with critics such as Edmund Wilson and Jacques Barzun who, he says, have failed to appreciate mystery's literary and social worth. Fans are sure to agree with Hillerman. This anthology is a cornerstone volume for any mystery library." Publishers Weekly
In this essential distillation of American suspense, 100 years worth of peerless tales are collected into a volume where giants of the genre abound: Raymond Chandler, Lawrence Block, Sue Grafton, Elmore Leonard, and Sara Paretsky.
About the Author
Otto Penzler is the founder of the Mysterious Bookshops and the Mysterious Press and an Edgar Award winner. He is the series editor of The Best American Mystery Stories
. He lives in New York City.
Tony Hillerman's many honors include the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar and Grandmaster prizes, the Silver Spur Award for Best Novel set in the West, and the Navajo Tribe's Special Friend Award. His best-selling novels include The First Eagle, The Fallen Man, and Finding Moon.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Otto Penzler ix Introduction by Tony Hillerman xiv
1903 O. Henry A Retrieved Reformation 1 1905 Willa Cather Paul's Case 8 1905 Jacques Futrelle The Problem of Cell 13 26 1914 Frederick Irving Anderson Blind Man's Buff 58 1916 Melville Davisson Post Naboth's Vineyard 73 1917 Susan Glaspell A Jury of Her Peers 85 1925 Dashiell Hammett The Gutting of Couffignal 105 1925 Ring Lardner Haircut 133 1925 Wilbur Daniel Steele Blue Murder 144 1928 Ben Ray Redman The Perfect Crime 162 1933 James M. Cain The Baby in the Icebox 178 1933 John Steinbeck The Murder 193 1934 Damon Runyan Sense of Humor 204 1938 Pearl S. Buck Ransom 212 1938 Raymond Chandler Red Wind 235 1942 James Thurber The Catbird Seat 279 1942 Cornell Woolrich Rear Window 288 1946 William Faulkner An Error in Chemistry 318 1947 Harry Kemelman The Nine Mile Walk 335 1947 Ellery Queen The Adventure of the President's Half Disme 344 1950 John D. MacDonald The Homesick Buick 363 1953 Ross Macdonald Gone Girl 375 1955 Stanley Ellin The Moment of Decision 405 1955 Evan Hunter First Offense 426 1957 Margaret Millar The Couple Next Door 443 1957 Henry Slesar The Day of the Execution 458 1962 Patricia Highsmith The Terrapin 466 1965 Shirley Jackson The Possibility of Evil 479 1965 Flannery O'Connor The Comforts of Home 489 1967 Jerome Weidman Good Man, Bad Man 508 1969 Joe Gores Goodbye, Pops 523 1973 Harlan Ellison The Whimper of Whipped Dogs 530 1973 Robert L. Fish The Wager 547 1973 Joyce Carol Oates Do with Me What You Will 556 1978 Stephen King Quitters, Inc. 568 1981 Jack Ritchie The Absence of Emily 587 1984 Lawrence Block By the Dawn's Early Light 597 1984 Stephen Greenleaf Iris 615 1984 Sara Paretsky Three-Dot Po 635 1986 Sue Grafton The Parker Shotgun 649 1989 Donald E. Westlake Too Many Crooks 665 1996 James Crumley Hot Springs 678 1996 Brendan DuBois The Dark Snow 694 1996 Michael Malone Red Clay 713 1998 Tom Franklin Poachers 729 1999 Dennis Lehane Running Out of Dog 770
Biographical Notes 801