Hornsby's complete short fiction—eleven stories and one nonfiction article, "Wendy Goes to the Morgue"—makes for a slight volume with distinct peaks and valleys linked by a marked preference for suave understatement. Her best-known creation, documentarist Maggie McGowen (A Hard Light
, 1997, etc.), is absent, but Maggie's boyfriend Mike Flint, late of the LAPD, appears in one of three new stories, "Essential Things," whose mystery is upstaged by his buying and rebuilding a retirement home. A second new story, "The Sky Shall Always Be Blue," echoes Shirley Jackson's "The Possibility of Evil" in giving a condo busybody her comeuppance. (The unseen third, "Why Vanessa Jumped," is available only in the limited-edition hardcover.) Of the reprints, two stories coauthored with Hornsby's daughter Alyson are shivery, noncriminal anecdotes of a child's imaginary friend and a family's coming to terms with their late father and grandfather; the others are all worth closer attention. "The Naked Giant" and "New Moon and Rattlesnakes" are elegantly foreshortened tales of women's revenge; "High Heels in the Headliner" recounts a romance writer's absurd, tragic infatuation with a tough cop; and "Ghost Caper" is a truly chilling tale of a mischievous West Hollywood prowler. But Hornsby never outclassed her eponymous debut, a quietly devastating Depression idyll that won an Edgar in 1992.
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