The Best American Mystery Stories of the Century

Tony Hillerman, Editor, Otto Penzler, Editor
Tony Hillerman, Editor, Otto Penzler, Editor Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $28 (832p) ISBN 978-0-618-01267-1
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
Hardcover - 864 pages - 978-0-618-06757-2
Paperback - 840 pages - 978-0-618-01271-8
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Hillerman, one of America's most distinguished crime novelists (The First Eagle, The Fallen Man, etc.), and Penzler, Mysterious Bookshops owner and Mysterious Press founder as well as series editor of the publisher's Best American Mystery Stories, have pooled their considerable expertise to pick the 55 tales that make up this hefty compendium. In between O. Henry's ""A Retrieved Reformation"" (1903) and Dennis Lehane's ""Running Out of Dog"" (1999), the editors include short gems by classic masters (Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, Raymond Chandler) and contemporary giants (Lawrence Block, Sue Grafton, Sara Paretsky). Well represented also are authors not usually associated with the field (Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates). In his foreword, Penzler entertainingly describes the formidable and sometimes subjective process of winnowing thousands of possible stories to a manageable number. Hillerman, meanwhile, who made the final selection, comments in his introduction on the genre's evolution from puzzle mystery for an elite readership 100 years ago to something much more substantial and democratic today, taking issue with critics such as Edmund Wilson and Jacques Barzun--who, he says, have failed to appreciate mystery's literary and social worth. Fans are sure to agree with Hillerman. This anthology is a cornerstone volume for any mystery library. (Apr.)
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