Perhaps because of a dearth of recent good stories, this year's annual anthology from the Mystery Writers of America gathers 24 tales from 1947-1978, most of which won MWA Edgar awards (the first awards were given only for a writer's whole oeuvre). Considering the format, it's a roundly disappointing group, no great testimony to the MWA's erratic taste: two slivers of Roald Dahl's black comedy stand up fairly well; two by Stanley Ellin prove less sturdy (one Dahl-ish, the other in a Twilight Zone vein); there are plain, decent crime-ers from William Irish, William O'Farrell, and Joe Gores, a bit of macabre whimsy from David Ely, an Ellery Q. standby, and early Joyce Harrington (she's gotten much better); plus some heavy-handed, social-comment suspense from Harlan Ellison and variations on inside-the-mind psycho-suspense as it pops up in 1952 (in Philip MacDonald's ""Love Lies Bleeding"") and later begins, in more pretentious forms, to dominate the lackluster 1970s. The standout? A sleeper: Warner Law's hilarious ""The Man Who Fooled the World""--the confessions of a bumbling, exasperating art-forger who seems to have devoted his life to infuriating an art-collector named W. Somerset Maugham. Otherwise: insufficiently inspired contents for any self-respecting award-winner collection, appendixed with lists of the Edgar winners in various fields (revealing, incidentally, that at least two of the best Edgar-winning stories, by Shirley Jackson and Ruth Rendell, haven't been included here).