cover image Duo: Stories

Duo: Stories

Marcia Muller, Bill Pronzini. Five Star (ME), $23.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-7862-1657-4

Along with four other volumes (not submitted for review but listed below), this collection launches Five Star's new series of library editions reprinting mystery short stories and original paperbacks. Here are 14 stories written--and now chosen for this volume--by husband-and-wife writers Muller and Pronzini, both of whom have received the Private Eye Writers of America Lifetime Achievement Award. Spanning 20 years (1978-1998) of publication, the selections are perfectly balanced: six by Muller (one is a Sharon McCone tale), followed by two by both writers (one features both McCone and Pronzini's ""Nameless"" detective) and six by Pronzini (with another ""Nameless"" story included here). With the stories grouped in this way, the strengths of each writer are well contrasted. Muller's imaginative and unsettling ideas leave much for readers to resolve on their own, while Pronzini, harder edged, supplies more resolution but similar questions about motivations. Muller's stories are likely to linger in memory longer than Pronzini's. Two, in particular, stand out: ""The Cracks in the Sidewalk,"" in which a hopeful writer is caught up in the past of a homeless woman, and ""Dust to Dust,"" in which a house renovation resurrects not only the building's past glory but also its violent past. This litearary duet features two distinctive masters of the trade. (Dec.) FYI: The other inaugural books in the Five Star Mystery series are William Bernhardt's Primary Justice, John Lutz's Until You Are Dead, Max Allan's Butcher's Dozen and L.J. Washburn's Wild Night.