As we all know, I don't read long books. Well, not often. I sat down with this one and read every single story, over 400 pages of pure pulp. As the title says, there are 23 stories. What it doesn't say is that they're all from Dime Detective and that the editors chose one story from each year of the magazine's existence. It also doesn't say why a particular story was chosen. I enjoyed most of the stories, but not all. Here are a few thoughts.
One story I had to struggle with was Max Brand's "Nine Parts Devil." Brand's style bothered me, and his dialogue seemed pretty awful to me. I'd never read a Vee Brown story by Carroll John Daly, and it was kind of fun. Brown has the same attitude that Race Williams does, but Brown is a small guy who was pushed around a lot when he was young. Then he realized that a gun makes everyone equal and became a hunter of criminals, most of whom he kills when he finds them. He has a sideline under his real first name, Vivian, that's very different from his crime-busting. Erle Stanley Gardner's "The Hand of Horror" is different from anything I'd read by him. It's very contrived, and it could well have shown up in the shudder pulps without much alteration. I wasn't familiar with D. L. Champion's stories about a legless cop who might be a little bit nuts. Very interesting, and "Footprints on a Brain" is the first story in a long series. I'd be interested in reading more of them. Chandler's "The Lady in the Lake" seemed head and shoulders above the others, but they I'm probably prejudiced. I was a bit disappointed in Murray Leinster's story. The work I've read by him outside the SF field always seems weaker to me, though. John D. MacDonald's "The Man from Limbo" was very much a MacDonald story, but it leaned more on a lot of amateur psychology than I'd have expected. The book is what I'd call a good but not great anthology. Lots of good stuff, some not so good, most of it easy to forget. But fun while you're reading it. If you like pulp tales, the kind of stories where every character is smoking on every page, where detectives duck into all-night drugstores to make phone calls, where all the men wear hats, it's hard to go wrong with this volume
Contents: Hell's Pay Check (1931) by Frederick Nebel; The Crime Machine (1932) by Carroll John Daly; The Hand of Horror (1933) by Erle Stanley Gardner; Nine Parts Devil (1934) by Max Brand; A Burial is Arranged (1935) by John Lawrence; A Man's Last Hours (1936) by William E. Barrett; Something for the Sweeper (1937) by Norbert Davis; Footprints on a Brain (1938) by D.L. Champion; The Lady in the Lake (1939) by Raymond Chandler; Strangler's Kill (1940) by Merle Constiner; Ding Dong Belle (1941) by Hugh B. Cave; You Slay Me, Baby (1942) by Frederick C. Davis; Sleep No More My Lovely (1943) by G.T. Fleming-Roberts; I'll Slay You in My Dreams (1944) by Bruno Fischer; No Minimum for Murder (1945) by Julius Long; A Ghoul and His Money (1946) by C.M. Kornbluth; Cold Storage (1947) by Robert Turner; Death Comes Gift-Wrapped (1948) by William P. McGivern; A Dish of Monicide (1949) by Hank Searls; Safe As Any Sap (1950) by William Tenn; None But the Lethal Heart (1951) by William C. Gault; The Man From Limbo (1952) by John D. MacDonald; Murderer's Encore (1953) by Murray Leinster