Desperate Days, Volume 2: Selected Mysteries

Desperate Days, Volume 2: Selected Mysteries

by Jack Vance

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This second collection of Vance crime novels edited by Terry Dowling and Jonathan Strahan (after 2011’s Dangerous Ways) shows Vance to be a highly skilled practitioner of the traditional mystery. The first of the three, The Fox Valley Murders (1966), introduces Sheriff Joe Bain of California’s fictional San Rodrigo County. As acting sheriff following his boss’s unexpected demise, Bain looks into a baffling series of deaths apparently connected with the return of bad seed Ausley Wyett, who’s just served 16 years for the rape-murder of an eighth-grader. People who testified against Wyett have begun getting threatening letters. Once a key clue is revealed at the end, readers will be gratified to go back and see how Vance concealed it in plain sight. Bain made his second and last appearance in The Pleasant Grove Murders (1967), also included. The Dark Ocean (1985), which draws on Vance’s experience on freighters, rounds out the volume. Fans of mysteries with a strong regional flavor will be rewarded. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Volume two (after Dangerous Ways, 2011) contains three full-length mysteries from the late Vance: The Fox Valley Murders (1966), The Pleasant Grove Murders (1967), and The Dark Ocean (1985, c1966). The first two titles are police procedurals featuring country sheriff Joe Bain. Both have a leisurely pace and strongly evoke a distinctly rural central California a half century ago. The third features an independent young female protagonist who's cruising on an ocean freighter when things start to go wrong. This closed-room drama at sea is quite memorable. VERDICT A grand master in science fiction and fantasy, Vance is less well known to mystery readers. Thanks to an admirable effort by Subterranean Press editors Dowling and Strahan, Vance's regional mysteries are getting a second chance. An important purchase for California collections in particular.

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Subterranean Press
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6.50(w) x 9.10(h) x 2.00(d)

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