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The Best American Mystery Stories of the Century

Average Rating 3.5
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  • Posted June 7, 2012

    It’s difficult to say whether this is a “good&rdqu



    It’s difficult to say whether this is a “good” or a “bad” book. It ultimately depends what story you chose to read. Half the stories I read were great, while just as many stories left me struggling to finish them. Most of the endings to stories tie the whole book together, so you have to be patient throughout the story. Some stories are short like 10 pages and some are 50 pages. On the other hand, I felt I struggled to read some stories. I started reading 4 other stories but I never finished them because they were so boring. There was not originality to a lot of the stories. For some stories, I was hoping for some great unexpected twist in the end, and I never got anything. For example The Couple Next Door written by Margaret Millar, was very stereotypical and didn’t have any originality. Haircut was written by Ring Larder but I wish it wasn’t written at all. It’s simply about a barber telling a story. No humor, no surprise, no riddle, nothing. I would recommend The Problems of Cell 13 by Jacques Futrelle, The Whimper of Whipped Dogs by Harlan Ellison, and The First Offense by Evan Hunter. They don’t have an attention grabbing murder or people falling out of burning planes, but if your patient with them, you’ll get a good story. The ending gives you that “ah-ha” moment, definitely making a great story. Overall, it really depends what stories in this book you choose to read; some are better than others, just like all other books.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent collection

    Talk about pressure. The goal is to select fifty-five tales with each twentieth century decade having at least three entries written by American authors to represent the best mystery short stories of the last hundred years. That is what Tony Hillerman and Otto Penzler set out to do and succeeded. <P>As expected many of the famous classic mystery writers such Hammett, Queen, and Chandler have works included in this tome. Also not surprising is that several of current popular authors such as Block, Paretsky, and Lehane have works contained in the anthology. It will be very startling to some fans that members of the Who¿s Who of American literature includes names such as O¿Henry, Hemingway, Faulkner, Steinbeck, and Thurber. Added to the mix is an explanation on the selection process by Penzler and a brief historical look at how vast the genre has grown from its roots. <P>Harriet Klausner

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