Chalk another one up to synchronicity. Ever since reading Colloquium on Crime, I’ve been toying with the idea of trying my hand at mystery short stories. Although I read a lot of mystery novels, my experience with the short stories has been limited to Arthur Conan Doyle and Rex Stout, so I thought to check out a “Best” collection, and regretted that there wasn’t a mystery collection to rival the SF collections edited by Gardner Dozois and the horror/fantasy collections edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. I was telling Doug Lewis about this at the Little Bookshop of Horrors, and he pointed out this volume. It looks like the very thing I was hoping for: a large compendium of stories with an summation of the field in the front packaged by Jim Frenkel. I’m glad to see this volume, and I hope “First Annual Edition,” isn’t just wishful thinking, although I must note that the production qualites of this volume (especially the number of typos) are nowhere near as good as the St. Martin’s collections. How about the story selection? It centers mainly on reprints from Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, although there are 10 or so from original anthologies, and one selection from Amazing Stories. I was surprised to not see any selected from Alfred Hitchcock’s. Is there a bias against Hitchcock’s, or is Ellery Queen’s just that much better? And the stories? I enjoyed every one, and didn’t think any as a true dud. However, I tended to enjoy the stories that went beyond the bounds of what we consider a traditional mystery more than the others (with the exception of Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s time-travel mystery; Rusch is a talented writer, but all I seem to get from her stuff is a feeling of technical mastery, rather than actual interest). My favorite story was Edward D. Hoch’s “The Detective’s Wife.” Although it contained a mystery, the story was really about the relationship, or deterioration of the relationship, between a police detective and his wife. My least favorite story was James Kisner’s “Mother Tucker,” a poor revenge/horror tale that was unsurprising.
[Finished 3 May 1993]