Friday, November 11, 2016

FFB: 13 Short Detective Novels -- Bill Pronzini & Martin H. Greenberg, editors

This book should've been titled 13 Detective Novelettes, because that's what they are.  Any time you get 13 stories in 664 pages, you know you don't have 13 novels.  Not that I'm complaining.  I enjoyed all of these, including the ones I'd read before.  

Finger Man, as you Chandler buffs know, wasn't originally a Philip Marlowe story, but it was converted when it was collected later on.  I believe that the narrator was nameless in the first published version, but he's so much like Marlowe that the name doesn't matter.  I think that in this version, he's referred to as Marlowe only once, when we're told about the name on his office door.  A good story, no matter who the narrator is.

City of Brass is one of Ed Hoch's stories about Simon Ark.  These stories always hint at the supernatural but everything always has a mundane explanation.  Ark's an interesting character, but I don't think of this as one of the better stories.

I was way ahead of The Saint in The Saint in Palm Springs, but I didn't figure out the motive.

Bill Pronzini's "Who's Calling," about obscene phone calls is an example of a story that couldn't happen now because of the way telephones have changed.  Lots of old tech here.  Still a good story, though.

And speaking of change, I'd read John D. MacDonald's "Murder for Money" before, probably in The Good Old Stuff or More Good Old Stuff.  It's been "updated," but now more years have passed since the updating than had passed before the updating was done.  That gives me a weird feeling.

The Room with Something Wrong has a solution that's pretty hard to swallow, for various reasons, but then it's a Woolrich story.  It's fun to read, though.

So are the other stories.  Leslie Ford tricked me, Palmer and Rice made me laugh, Van Gulick transported me to another era and another country, McBain didn't trick me but told a good story, Gardner puts Perry Mason through his paces, and Philip Wylie's story is almost as improbable as the one by Woolrich.  I'd read the Simenon before, but I enjoyed it again as it was almost seasonal.


Richard Moore said...

Some folks have argued that the novella was the perfect length for the detective/crime story. After being a common form in magazines such as American and SEP, it almost disappeared. Rex Stout really had the form down in many cases featuring Nero and Archie. Novellas almost disappeared in recent years but glad to see EQMM/AHMM are showcasing a few each year. I still love the novels but have a deep fondness for the 20,000 word story.

Rick Robinson said...

I'm surprised that I've only read two of these, the Chandler and the Van Gulik. Unless maybe I just don't remember, which is possible.

Don Coffin said...

Too bad this is OP.

Jeff Meyerson said...

I know I've read a bunch of these like the Chandler and Pronzini and Simenon but would have to check. Good collection.

George said...

13 SHORT DETECTIVE NOVELS sounds great! I'll track down a copy.