GRAVEYARD PLOTS: The Best Short Stories of Bill Pronzini by Bill Pronzini

GRAVEYARD PLOTS: The Best Short Stories of Bill Pronzini

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Pronzini has chosen his 23 ""favorites among the more than 150 pieces of short crime fiction I've published""--but few readers are likely to agree that this collection shows the mystery veteran at his short-story best. Three pieces feature Pronzini's ""Nameless"" shamus: the solid ""Skeleton Rattle Your Mouldy Leg"" (also featured in the most recent Year's Best Mystery & Suspense Stories); the over-complicated ""Cat's-Paw,"" about a locked-cage murder at San Francisco's big zoo; and ""Sanctuary,"" a routine mini-puzzle, not previously published. The others, dating from 1969-1980 (most originally published in the Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock mystery magazines), are heavy on labored twists and crude psychology--with vengeful psychos, thugs on the lam, and other non-characters dominating. One attempt at satire, ""A Craving for Originality"" (about a hack writer), is embarrassingly leaden; only one item (""Proof of Guilt"") displays the black-comic whimsy that Pronzini is sometimes capable of; side-trips into fantasy and allegory are unfortunate. And only one story registers as a genuine standout: ""Strangers in the Fog,"" an effectively creepy variation on a familiar scenario (which of three strangers is the escaped psycho-killer?), with a gimmicky yet satisfying final twist. Journeyman work for the most part, then--and far less impressive than Pronzini's collection of ""Nameless"" Detective stories, Casefile.

Pub Date: Nov. 26th, 1985
Publisher: St. Martin's