Book Report: Great Tales of Mystery & Suspense compiled by Bill Pronzini, Barry N. Salzberg, & Martin H. Greenberg (1994)

I can’t believe I read the whole thing.

Sorry to be summoning forth the memory of old Alka Seltzer commercials, but zowie, this is a 601 page book. It’s an Anna Karenina-sized collection of mystery short stories.

It’s a large collection of short stories, to be sure, but it’s a very good collection of short stories, so don’t get me wrong. It took me a couple of weeks to read it, but that’s because even the best book of short stories might be hard to put down, but sometimes they can be hard to pick up again, particularly when they’re 600 page books of short stories and you’re a fellow who likes to read a couple of books a week.

This collection, though, is definitely of higher quality than some of the collections of short stories I’ve picked up in the recent past (even better than The Best from Fantasy and Science Fiction Fourteenth Series). This book runs a gamut, from serious literary writers like Pearl S. Buck and Bernard Malamud to science fiction luminaries like Robert Silverberg (see my review for Three Survived) to my mystery standards (John D. MacDonald, Ed McBain, Ross MacDonald, Erle Stanley Gardner, Mickey Spillaine, and Ellery Queen).

The styles vary, but the quality is definitely high, and it’s worth the buck I paid for it at St. Michael’s book fair this winter. Heck, for the dollar, I got a lot of nights’ reading from it, which is both good (efficient spending for prolonged reading) and bad (prolonged reading means less clearance of the to-read shelf and too little blog fodder).

The link below lists it as low as $.34 currently (plus shipping). Worth all of those pennies and more.

And when you’ve read it, explain the Bernard Malamud story (“My Son The Murderer”) to me, because I didn’t get it. Since it was the last story in the book and the only thing standing between me and logging the book as my 15th trophy of the year, I didn’t mind. But I didn’t get it, either. Blending multiple 1st person points of view across multiple paragraphs? The intro said there was a crime in it, but I didn’t see it.

Books mentioned in this review: