Sunday, September 21, 2008

Maiden Murders by The Mystery Writers of America

Maiden Murders by The Mystery Writers of America.
Harper & Brothers, Copyright 1952

This is one of the better anthologies that I've came across. I'm very selective when it comes to collections of short works in a book form, probably because I'll read only one or two of the stories and never get around to reading the majority of them. This wasn't the case here, these are terrific mystery stories. I see this book often in used bookstores or Salvation Army stores, I assume they published many copies. I paid a buck a few months ago, so how can you go wrong. The book has each authors first story, (or close to their first published story) and the author writes a brief introduction before the story. These are fascinating, some struggle to remember how the story came about, some were written on ships during WWII, some from a little episode they witnessed in life, almost all mention the little money they got paid for the story. I read over half of them so far, and there hasn't been a bad one in the bunch.

Since these were written so early in each authors career, you can see the "greatness in infancy" come through the pages. Of the ones I read, Gault's Marksman and David Alexander's racial lynching story are chilling. Kenneth Millar introduces us to a P.I. called Rogers, who latter turns into one of the best P.I.s in print, Lew Archer. In fact, Millar (Ross Macdonald) latter altered the story and substituted Rogers with Archer. Lawrence Blockman contributes an excellent pulp story, as does one of my favorite authors, Day Keene. The Ellery Queen adventure is a who-done-it marvel, and Jerome Barry packs a handful of suspense in his four page story. And you can't go wrong when the last story in the anthology is Stanley Ellin's award winning "dining" thriller.

A surprisingly excellent collection and if you see a battered copy in your travels, it's definitely worth a buck or two.

Room Number Twenty-Three by Hugh Penecost
The Fifty-Carat Jinx by Lawrence G. Blockman
Bezique of Death by Veronica Parker Johns
The Little House at Croix-Rousse by George Simenon
The Riddle of the Dangling Pearl by Stuart Palmer
Shoes for Breakfast by Lawrence Treat
Find the Woman by Kenneth Millar
Marksman by William Campbell Gault
Victim No. 5 by Harry Stephen Keeler
The Man in the Velvet Hat by Jerome and Harold Prince
The Adventure of the Black Narcissus by August Derleth
And On the Third Day by David Alexander
Too Many Brides by Ruth Wilson
The Fourth Degree by Jerome Barry
The Second Sight of Dr. Sam Johnson by Lillian De La Torre
Old Calamity Tries a Bluff by Joseph Fulling Fishman
A Great Whirring of Wings by Day Keene
Threnody by Anthony Boucher
The Adventures of the One-Penny Black by Ellery Queen
The Specialty of the House by Stanley Ellin


David Cranmer said...

This looks like a winner. I will be on the lookout for it.

pattinase (abbott) said...

A treasure trove. Me, too.