WHEN LAST SEEN: Mystery Writers of America, Anthology 1977 by Arthur--Ed. Maling

WHEN LAST SEEN: Mystery Writers of America, Anthology 1977

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An MWA anthology means no British stories (though Michael Gilbert somehow slips in with a mild but graceful 1949 item), and this collection of sixteen missing-persons tales suffers from a certain unrelieved grimness; the light, wry London rhythm is definitely missed. Still, Ross Macdonald's ""Gone Girl"" gives us early Lew Archer in top form, and Lillian de la Torre's detecting Dr. Johnson sees through a returned-prodigal hoax in ""The Lost Heir."" The others haven't much style, with most of the disappearances predictably turning into murders in the hands of Pauline C. Smith, Edward D. Hoch, Stanley Ellin, Henry Slesar (some ESP detection), Patrick O'Keeffe, and Dan J. Marlowe. For variety, there's a prison-escape puzzle from James Holding, thieves who try to change their appearances from Joe Gores and Gerald Tomlinson, and a voluntary immersion-disappearance into the fourth-dimensional Arizona town that Stanley Cohen calls ""Nadigo,"" And, in psychological tales from Bill Pronzini and Dorothy S. Davis, the missing-person motif hardly surfaces at all. Tagged onto these stories from the last 25 years is Vincent Starrett's ""The Blue Door"" of 1930, a benign, old-fashioned yarn of mistaken identity featuring such lines as ""You're a better man than I am, Gordon Gin."" Editor Maling's slightly overeager introductions incorporate quotes from many of the contributors, sometimes concerning the stories, sometimes not. An undistinguished, rather monotonic grouping.

Pub Date: Sept. 28th, 1977
Publisher: Harper & Row