cover image Hardboiled: An Anthology of American Crime Stories

Hardboiled: An Anthology of American Crime Stories

. Oxford University Press, USA, $35 (540pp) ISBN 978-0-19-508499-3

Prolific anthologist and mystery writer Pronzini (the Nameless Detective series) and Adrian (Detective Stories for the Strand) have compiled a superb anthology of gritty crime fiction. Grouped by decade, from the 1920s to the '90s, the stories sample some of the best crime writers, many of whom cut their teeth on pulp, including Dashiell Hammett, Ross Macdonald, Mickey Spillane, James M. Cain, Elmore Leonard, Evan Hunter (aka Ed McBain), James Ellroy, Andrew Vachss and Lawrence Block. Some of the older tales, like Hammett's plot-heavy, trick-ending ``The Scorched Face,'' haven't aged well. Others, like Macdonald's ``Guilt-Edged Blonde,'' a Lew Archer story, and Leonard's ``3:10 to Yuma,'' a taut tale of a marshal escorting a convicted robber to prison, still impress in this account of the evolution of an American popular art form. (June)