Death on the Verandah: Mystery Stories of the South from Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine

Cynthia Manson, Editor
Cynthia Manson, Editor Carroll & Graf Publishers $19.95 (283p) ISBN 978-0-7867-0055-4
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Perhaps it's the daunting presence of such masters as Flannery O'Connor and Raymond Carver, but this collection of Southern crime tales gathered from Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine seems somewhat off-balance. O'Connor's prose, in a tale about a young man whose kindly mother takes a ``slut'' into their home, is deceptively simple, setting up a conclusion that is both shocking and expected at the same time. Carver exposes midlife crises, terminal boredom and a callous propensity for violence in his verbally spare manner as two pals get away from their women and their families to drink a few beers. Manson follows Carver's minimalism with the wordy Eudora Welty writing about an old man found living a double life on two sides of a small town. Representing the best of the more recent, strictly mystery fiction is John Lutz, who takes his St. Louis shamus, Alo Nudger, to New Orleans in a story with an understated gothic edge. These four tales stand out from the other 12, at best workmanlike stories. (July)
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