Synopses & Reviews
“Well worth its impressive weight in gold, it would be a crime not to have this seminal masterpiece in your collection.”—New York Journal of Books
In his introduction to The Best American Noir of the Century, James Ellroy writes, “Noir is the most scrutinized offshoot of the hard-boiled school of fiction. Its the long drop off the short pier and the wrong man and the wrong woman in perfect misalliance. Its the nightmare of flawed souls with big dreams and the precise how and why of the all-time sure thing that goes bad.” Offering the best examples of literary sure things gone bad, this collection ensures that nowhere else can readers find a darker, more thorough distillation of American noir fiction.
James Ellroy and Otto Penzler mined writings of the past century to find this treasure trove of thirty-nine stories. From noirs twenties-era infancy come gems like James M. Cains “Pastorale,” and its postwar heyday boasts giants like Mickey Spillane and Evan Hunter. Packing an undeniable punch, diverse contemporary incarnations include Elmore Leonard, Patricia Highsmith, Joyce Carol Oates, Dennis Lehane, and William Gay, with many page-turners appearing from the past decade.
“Delightfully devilish . . . A strange trek through the years that includes stories from household names in the hard-boiled genre to lesser-known authors who nonetheless can hold their own with the legends.”—Associated Press
James Ellroy is the author of the Underworld U.S.A. trilogy—American Tabloid, The Cold Six Thousand, and Bloods a Rover—and the L.A. Quartet novels, The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential, and White Jazz. His most recent book is The Hillicker Curse, a memoir.
Otto Penzler is the founder of the Mysterious Bookshop and Mysterious Press, has won two Edgar Allan Poe Awards (most recently for The Lineup), and is series editor of The Best American Mystery Stories.
"This impressive anthology of pulp-era crime stories from veteran editor and publisher Penzler reveals not only tales with surprising staying power but also some of high literary quality. To be sure, there are some selections sure to offend modern sensibilities and others whose extravagant prose now comes across as laughable or ludicrous. But aside from questions of quality and taste, these tales laid the foundation for most branches of the crime fiction genre as we know it today. Raymond Chandler's 'Red Wind' is as effective now as it was when published in 1938. An unexpected treat is 'Faith,' a previously unpublished Dashiell Hammett story. Multiple offerings from Erle Stanley Gardner, Hammett, Chandler and Cornell Woolrich add luster. Divided into three sections the Crimefighters, the Villains, the Dames with cogent intros by Penzler to each entry, this comprehensive volume allows the reader to revisit that exciting time when the pulp magazines flourished and writers pounded out fiction for a penny a word or less." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[T]here's guilty fun to be had in the snarling prose and vintage illustrations of what the editor, Otto Penzler, promises are 'the best crime stories' from the 'golden age' of the '20s, '30s and '40s." Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
"Though other similar collections exist, this noirasaurus will appeal to the genre's many fans. If pulps are your cup, it will runneth over with Black Lizard's gangbusters collection." Library Journal
"Virtually all the stories go on too long, but Daly's short novel helps demonstrate why the longish story was pulp fiction's ideal metier, and what miracles Red Harvest and The Big Sleep were. Part reference, part guilty pleasure, part doorstop." Kirkus Reviews
"Readers of this almost ludicrously entertaining collection will find both junk and excellence, more lazy harebrained plotting than they can shake a stick at, legions of clunky sentences and pages of great dialogue and off-the-cuff poetry." The Los Angeles Times
"Spend time with more than a thousand pages of crime fiction, though, and see if it doesn't rub off on you....Penzler organizes the book into three parts: crimefighters, villains and dames. It's a good move." Kansas City Star
"It's a little less fun reading these slim things in a groaning compendium, but at least it's a paperback. And good luck finding them all on your own." Booklist
The biggest, the boldest, the most comprehensive collection of Pulp writing ever assembled.
Weighing in at over a thousand pages, containing over forty-seven stories and two novels, this book is big baby, bigger and more powerful than a freight train a bullet couldn't pass through it. Here are the best stories and every major writer who ever appeared in celebrated Pulps like Black Mask, Dime Detective, Detective Fiction Weekly, and more. These are the classic tales that created the genre and gave birth to hard-hitting detectives who smoke criminals like packs of cigarettes; sultry dames whose looks are as lethal as a dagger to the chest; and gin-soaked hideouts where conversations are just preludes to murder. This is crime fiction at its gritty best.
- Three stories by Raymond Chandler, Cornell Woolrich, Erle Stanley Gardner, and Dashiell Hammett.
- Complete novels from Carroll John Daly, the man who invented the hard-boiled detective, and Fredrick Nebel, one of the masters of the form.
- A never before published Dashiell Hammett story.
- Every other major pulp writer of the time, including Paul Cain, Steve Fisher, James M. Cain, Horace McCoy, and many, many more of whom you've probably never heard.
- Three deadly sections The Crimefighters, The Villains, and Dames with three unstoppable introductions by Harlan Coben, Harlan Ellison, and Laura Lippman
- Plenty of reasons for murder, all of them good.
- A kid so smart he'll die of it.
- A soft-hearted loan shark's legman learning the hard way never to buy a strange blonde a hamburger.
- The uncanny "Moon Man" and his mad-money victims.
Here are 45 of the best stories and the major writers who ever appeared in celebrated pulps like Black Mask, Dime Detective, and Detective Fiction Weekly. These are the classic tales that created the genre and gave birth to hard-hitting detectives.
James Ellroy and Otto Penzler mined the past century to find this treasure trove of thirty-nine stories. From noirs twenties-era infancy come gems like James M. Cains “Pastorale,” and its postwar heyday boasts giants like Mickey Spillane and Evan Hunter. Packing an undeniable punch, diverse contemporary incarnations include Elmore Leonard, Patricia Highsmith, Joyce Carol Oates, Dennis Lehane, and William Gay, with many page-turners appearing from the past decade.
A treasure trove of a hundred years worth of the finest noir writing selected by James Ellroy
About the Author
Otto Penzler is the proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop in New York City. He was publisher of The Armchair Detective, the founder of the Mysterious Press and the Armchair Detective Library, and created the publishing firm Otto Penzler Books. He is a recipient of an Edgar Award for The Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection and the Ellery Queen Award by the Mystery Writers of America for his many contributions to the field. He is the series editor of The Best American Mystery Stories of the Year. His other anthologies include Murder for Love, Murder for Revenge, Murder and Obsession, The 50 Greatest Mysteries of All Time, and The Best American Mystery Stories of the Century. He wrote 101 Greatest Movies of Mystery and Suspense. He lives in New York City.
Table of Contents
Harlan Coben: Introduction
Paul Cain: One, Two, Three
Dashiell Hammett: The Creeping Siamese
Erle Stanley Gardner: Honest Money
Horace McCoy: Frost Rides Alone
Thomas Walsh: Double Check
Charles G. Booth: Stag Party
Leslie T. White: The City of Hell!
Raymond Chandler: Red Wind
Frederick Nebel: Wise Guy
George Harmon Coxe: Murder Picture
Norbert Davis: The Price of a Dime
William Rollins, Jr.: Chicago Confetti
Cornell Woolrich: Two Murders, One Crime
Carroll John Daly: The Third Murderer
Harlan Ellison: Introduction
Erle Stanley Gardner: The Cat-Woman
Cornell Woolrich: The Dilemma of the Dead Lady
Richard Sale: The House of Kaa
Leslie Charteris: The Invisible Millionaire
Steve Fisher: Youll Always Remember Me
Dashiell Hammett: Faith
James M. Cain: Pastorale
Frank Gruber: The Sad Serbian
Raymond Chandler: Finger Man
Erle Stanley Gardner:The Monkey Murder
Raoul Whitfield: About Kid Deth
Frederick C. Davis: The Sinister Sphere
Paul Cain: Pigeon Blood
C. S. Montanye: The Perfect Crime
Norbert Davis: Youll Die Laughing
Frederick Nebel: The Crimes of Richmond City
i) Raw Law
ii) Dog Eat Dog
iii) The Law Laughs Last
iv) Law Without Law
Laura Lippman: Introduction
Cornell Woolrich: Angel Face
Leslie T. White: Chosen to Die
Eric Taylor: A Pinch of Snuff
Raymond Chandler: Killer in the Rain
Adolphe Barreaux: Sally the Sleuth
C. S. Montanye: A Shock for the Countess
C. B. Yorke: Snowbound
Randolph Barr: The Girl Who Knew Too Much
D. B. McCandless: The Corpse in the Crystal
D. B. McCandless: He Got What He Asked For
P. T. Luman: Gangsters Brand
Robert Reeves: Dance Macabre
Dashiell Hammett: The Girl with the Silver Eyes
Perry Paul: The Jane from Hells Kitchen
Whitman Chambers: The Duchess Pulls a Fast One
Roger Torrey: Mansion of Death
Roger Torrey: Concealed Weapon
Carlos Martinez: The Devils Bookkeeper
Lars Anderson: Black Legion
Richard Sale: Three Wise Men of Babylon
Eugene Thomas: The Adventure of the Voodoo Moon
T. T. Flynn: Brother Murder
Stewart Sterling: Kindly Omit Flowers