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The Best American Mystery Stories of the…

The Best American Mystery Stories of the Century (original 2000; udgave 2001)

af Tony Hillerman (Forfatter), Otto Penzler (Series Editor)

Serier: The Best American Mystery Stories (20th Century), Best American (20th Century)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
392650,548 (3.96)6
A collection of the best in mystery writing includes contributions by O. Henry, Dashiell Hammett, Ring Lardner, Ernest Hemingway, Ellery Queen, James Thurber, Sue Grafton, Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, Sara Paretsky, John Steinbeck, and Mickey Spillane.
Titel:The Best American Mystery Stories of the Century
Forfattere:Tony Hillerman (Forfatter)
Andre forfattere:Otto Penzler (Series Editor)
Info:Mariner Books (2001), Edition: 1st, 840 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek

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The Best American Mystery Stories of the Century af Tony Hillerman (Editor) (2000)


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Stories to span the 20th century. I had only read one before. Incredible collection of authors, ranging from O. Henry and Raymond Chandler through Pearl Buck and many more. ( )
  LindaLeeJacobs | Feb 15, 2020 |
"A Retrieved Reformation," O. Henry (1905): 8
- a simple story, simply told. And that seems to be the beauty of it, as the directness of the style, and the sincerity of the payoff work in it's favor. There are many places to go with a story about a safe cracker, although having him need to relinquish his alibi in order to save a girl locked in the safe is a nicely elegant way of tying all of these things together. I'm mostly surprised by that simple style for a story more than 100 years old, although I can't tell if it's the author or the contemporary genre expectations they create such an anachronistic effect.

"Paul's Case," by Willa Cather (1905): 8.25
- Well, there's the obvious pedantic question: in what way is this story a “mystery?” We have here a broody, moody tale of a broody moody teen, enamored with wealth and trappings of wealth and the lifestyles of the wealthy, albeit without any interest in doing the attendant work to access it [acting, business, etc.], until he eventually robs his place of employment, skips town to NYC , boards up in a ritzy hotel and spends lavishly, just for the sake of doing so, until he's found out and jumps in front of a train. There's never even the slightest inkling of a mystery plot -- save the only slightly delayed gratification on our knowledge of how exactly he acquires such spending cash himself (and, at that, we learn very matter of factly simply a paragraph later) -- and I’d guess that Cather herself would be hard pressed to declare whether she’s written anything like a mystery. Instead, what I’d imagine she thinks she’s written is a psychological portrait. Indeed, what success there is here largely lies in what success there is there. Because Paul is indeed an interesting case, especially in a literary sense. He’s taken by the glitz of the entertainment world, but nicely she notes that he actually has no interest in doing anything in it. He also thinks about suicide with a revolver first, but then dismisses it, and at that point it’s largely gone from the reader’s mind as well, given the narrative nature of these things. Nonetheless, the nice surprise when we find, ‘no, he’s just gonna do it jumping in front of a train.’ Strange. And in that sense successful, at least in the fact that it’s presented a compelling, if not convincing, image of a slightly off young man, although not exactly in the ways you might imagine. The smaller question: the death scene is simply a straight rip from Tolstoy though, no? It can’t have been conscious, or at least intended as a literary allusion [esp. as it serves no purpose within the story, i.e. he’s not trying to be ‘grand,’ as she admits he doesn’t read at all; and the plagiarism is otherwise not too impressive]. But, it’s not simply the event, but the description: slowing things down drastically in the moment, entering his thoughts, the immediate regret, the slightly alien ways of describing being hit by a train, the painless sort of confusion by Anna and Paul, and the understatedness of it all [I think her’s is that he is “dropping back into the immense design of things”]. That said, literary theft or not, I’m kind of in ~ come to think of it, there should be some sort of literary competition: given a common theme, write it in different ways. We all vote. Otherwise, the more interesting big question here revolves around class and capitalist critique. It’s too much to get into now, but one can’t help reading here without wondering how exactly she is targeting her critique. Im Nachhinein don’t think I that it is necessarily a critique of capitalism, especially as her acknowledgement of her lack of interest in any ‘honest’ labor is presented as damning evidence rather than than broader commentary. Given that he’s not poor -- and is easily from the upper middle class -- and that his ire is directed against the staid, earnest monotony (Calvin and Washington posters in his room) of the bourgeoisie, and his dreams wholly aristocratic, it seems instead to be half pooh-poohing the effects of this kind of glamourous display and half more intimate character study. I should maybe bump the score up a bit, given how much thought it does engender, even in spite of the clunkiness of the narrative development, even with the momentary lucidity of the big-picture prose writing. There’s also, I guess I should add, the possible homosexual undertones, which I’m always wary of highlighting off-the-cuff in these old stories, given that, when written by other, they’re just as likely as not to be channeled through clearly homophobic tropes: i.e. here Paul has a bad relationship with his Dad, no interest in women, the impossibility of life and the inevitability of tragic death, and is an aloof fop through and through, with a mincing demeanor and some sharply described affectations that unsettle/throw off those around him. I can’t, however, dismiss the short paragraph in which he meets another man from San Francisco, they enjoy the “night way of life” and return, with cold looks to each other, early in the morning from their adventures. So, there it is.

"Iris," by Stephen Greenleaf (1984): 7.25
- There's no need to belabor my irritation at genre labels, but again, here we go. This seemed like it might've fit the noir collection better, although, interestingly, the reason it isn't probably has to do with the fact that it's just not good enough. There's obviously some darkness here -- and there's also an attempt to make the detective some hardened, flea-bitten, terse mystery man, although instead he comes off more as an idealistic simpleton, the nothingness of his persona more a problem than success of characterization -- but the story does little to dig into the reality of it, beyond simply stating clearly, and in dialogue what that darkness is.

"Blind Man's Bluff," by Frederick Irving Anderson (1914): 6.5
- A trifle for its time, surely, this tale of Houdini hoodwinking some Gotham fatcats.
  Ebenmaessiger | Oct 6, 2019 |
This collection of mystery stories is truly an extraordinary volume. It reflects the history of the genre from 1903 (with a classic tale by O. Henry) through 1999 (with a contribution by Dennis Lehane). The book’s editor is the eminent Tony Hillerman -- well-known to readers for his own stories, novels, and essays. Hillerman’s choices of stories show his excellent taste and his scholarly knowledge of the field.

With such early stories as Jacques Futrelle’s 1905 “Problem of Cell 13,” readers visit a time when stories reflected works of Edgar Allan Poe and Arthur Conan Doyle; the puzzle was what mattered, and characterization was unimportant. By the end of the 20th century, as in Tom Franklin’s “Poachers,” the puzzle mattered little, and the reader never learns for sure who was responsible for the murders. As reflected in this collection, stories from the pulp magazines of the 1920s through 1940s could hardly be more different than those of a few decades earlier; the settings were “mean streets” and gritty saloons (not parlors and drawing rooms) and the characters were far more likely to be petty criminals and prostitutes than butlers and society matrons. In this collection, among notable stories from this time frame are Dashiell Hammett’s “The Gutting of Couffignal” (1925), James Cain’s “Baby in the Icebox” (1933), Raymond Chandler’s incomparable “Red Wind” (1938), and Cornell Woolrich’s “Rear Window” (1942), which spawned a movie by that name.

Selections from the 1950s include contributions from Ross MacDonald, John D. MacDonald, and Stanley Ellin, and from the 1960s, Patricia Highsmith and Shirley Jackson. Contributors from the 1970s and onward are a virtual who’s who of authors in the genre – Sue Grafton, Sara Paretsky, Stephen King, Harlan Ellison, Donald Westlake, Dennis Lehane, Lawrence Block, and others well known to aficionados. Among the included authors are a few surprises (given the genre)—John Steinbeck, Pearl Buck, and William Faulkner each make an appearance, as do the humorists James Thurber and Ring Lardner.

With a collection this good, it’s hard to choose those that are the most outstanding. However, my favorites include the contributions by Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, James Thurber, Ross MadDonald, Henry Slesar, and Dennis Lehane. Meanwhile, the funniest stories of the collection are Donald Westlake’s “Too Many Crooks” and James Thurber’s “The Catbird Seat.” At the negative end, I consider Harlan Ellison’s violent (though oft- reprinted) tale “The Whimper of Whipped Dogs” to be out of place here. As for Joyce Carol Oates’ “Do With Me What You Will” its inclusion mars the collection; the story is socially dated, and does not pass muster today when it comes to racial aspects.

Below is a list of the 46 short stories, with my own rankings (on a scale of 0 to 5 stars):

A Retrieved Reformation (O. Henry) 3*
Paul's Case (Willa Cather ) 3*
Problem of Cell 13 (Jacques Futrelle) 4*
Blind Man's Buff (Frederick Irving Anderson) 1.5*
Naboth's Vineyard (Melville Davisson Post) 2.5*
Jury of her Peers (Susan Glaspell) 3*
Gutting of Couffignal (Dashiell Hammett) 4*
Haircut (Ring Lardner) 1*
Blue Murder (Wilbur Daniel Steele) 1*
Perfect Crime (Ben Ray Redman) 3*
Baby in the Icebox (James M. Cain) 2*
Murder (John Steinbeck) 4*
Sense of Humor (Damon Runyan) 2*
Ransom (Pearl S. Buck) 2*
Red Wind (Raymond Chandler) 4*
Catbird Seat (James Thurber) 4*
Rear Window (Cornell Woolrich) 3*
Error in Chemistry (William Faulkner) 2*
Nine Mile Walk (Harry Kemelman) 3*
Adventure of the President's Half Disme (Ellery Queen) 1*
Homesick Buick (John D. MacDonald) 3*
Gone Girl (Ross Macdonald) 4*
Moment of Decision (Stanley Ellin) 3*
First Offense (Evan Hunter) 3*
Couple Next Door (Margaret Millar) 3.5*
Day of the Execution (Henry Slesar) 4.5*
Terrapin (Patricia Highsmith) 2*
Possibility of Evil (Shirley Jackson) 3*
Comforts of Home (Flannery O'Connor)
Good man, Bad Man (Jerome Weidman) 2.5*
Goodbye, Pops (Joe Gores) 1*
Whimper of Whipped Dogs (Harlan Ellison) 1*
Wager (Robert L. Fish) 2*
Do with Me What You Will (Joyce Carol Oates) 0*
Quitters, Inc. (Stephen King) 1*
Absence of Emily (Jack Ritchie) 3.5*
By the Dawn's Early Light (Lawrence Block) 3.5*
Iris (Stephen Greenleaf) *
Three-Dot Po Sara Paretsky) 3*
Parker Shotgun (Sue Grafton) 4*
Too Many Crooks (Donald E. Westlake) 5*
Hot Springs (James Crumley) 4*
Dark Snow (Brendan DuBois) 3.5*
Red Clay (Michael Malone) 2*
Poachers (Tom Franklin) 4.5*
Running Out of Dog (Dennis Lehane) 4.5* ( )
2 stem danielx | Jul 26, 2018 |
How could a 813 page book with 46 stories titled The Best American Mystery Stories Of the Century steer you wrong? It can’t. Sure you won’t agree with everything that is in and not in the book (that is part of the fun of Best of... collections) but with contributors like [a:Lawrence Block|3389|Stephen King|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1175465339p2/3389.jpg], [a:James M. Cain|14473|James M. Cain|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1214424417p2/14473.jpg], [a:Raymond Chandler|1377|Raymond Chandler|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1206535318p2/1377.jpg], [a:William Faulkner|3535|William Faulkner|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1189905090p2/3535.jpg], [a:Sue Grafton|9559|Sue Grafton|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1202586126p2/9559.jpg], [a:Dashiel Hammett|16927|Dashiell Hammett|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1202585790p2/16927.jpg], [a:O. Henry|854076|Robert Louis Stevenson|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1192746024p2/854076.jpg], [a:Shirley Jackson|4191|Emily Brontë|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1200326444p2/4191.jpg], [a:Stephen King|3389|Stephen King|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1175465339p2/3389.jpg], [a:Donald E. Westlake|30953|Donald E. Westlake|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1230870096p2/30953.jpg] (still chuckling from his Dortmunder tale) and a host of others even the most hardened mystery fan will find something to like. This is truly the best. ( )
  rickklaw | Oct 13, 2017 |
As with most collections, this one had some ups and downs but for the most part it was a great selection of crime short stories. I say crime rather than mystery since some, particularly the later stories, were not 'mysteries' - they had no puzzle or whodunit aspect but were rather character studies of some mighty unpleasant characters. These stories were the ones I liked least but not because they were bad short stories, just because my tastes don't lie that way. I also didn't like a few of the very early ones which were mysteries but written in a style that didn't appeal to me (Melville Davisson Post's Uncle Abner story for example). I did like the chronological layout more than I had expected - it was interesting to see the progression of styles as well as the emergence of the strong female P.I.s in the 1980s.

Someone who doesn't read a lot of American mysteries might be surprised by some of the authors included here (Pearl Buck & Flannery O'Connor for example) while some other well-known mystery writers are missing (Erle Stanley Gardner for one). I was pleased to get my first introduction to some well-known authors I haven't gotten around to yet (Cornell Woolrich, Stephen King & Dennis Lehane to name 3) and to meet up with some old friends as well (James M. Cain, Sara Paretsky & Sue Grafton among others). There were also quite a few unfamiliar names to me as well. ( )
  leslie.98 | Jul 21, 2016 |
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Forfatter navnRolleHvilken slags forfatterVærk?Status
Hillerman, TonyRedaktørprimær forfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Penzler, OttoSeries Editorhovedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Anderson, Frederick IrvingBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Block, LawrenceBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Buck, Pearl S.Bidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Cain, James M.Bidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Cather, WillaBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Chandler, RaymondBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Crumley, JamesBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
DuBois, BrendanBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Ellin, StanleyBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Ellison, HarlanBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Faulkner, WilliamBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Fish, Robert L.Bidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Franklin, TomBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Futrelle, JacquesBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Glaspell, SusanBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Gores, JoeBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Grafton, SueBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Greenleaf, StephenBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Hammett, DashiellBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Henry, O.Bidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Highsmith, PatriciaBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Hillerman, TonyIntroduktionmedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Hunter, EvanBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Jackson, ShirleyBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Kemelman, HarryBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
King, StephenBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Lardner, RingBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Lehane, DennisBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
MacDonald, John D.Bidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
MacDonald, John RossBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Malone, MichaelBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Millar, MargaretBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
O'Connor, FlanneryBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Oates, Joyce CarolBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Paretsky, SaraBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Post, Melville DavissonBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Queen, ElleryBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Redman, Ben RayBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Ritchie, JackBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Runyon, DamonBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Slesar, HenryBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Steele, Wilbur DanielBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Steinbeck, JohnBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Thurber, JamesBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Weidman, JeromeBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Westlake, Donald E.Bidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Woolrich, CornellBidragydermedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
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Contains 46 stories.
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A collection of the best in mystery writing includes contributions by O. Henry, Dashiell Hammett, Ring Lardner, Ernest Hemingway, Ellery Queen, James Thurber, Sue Grafton, Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, Sara Paretsky, John Steinbeck, and Mickey Spillane.

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