Of these 14 stories originally published in AHMM, EQMM, and their ilk, half date from the 1970s, when Pronzini was still struggling with his craft. None is especially engaging, and only one, “One of Those Cases,” involves the author’s signature creation, the Nameless Detective, as he tails a husband who may be cheating, or worse. “A Craving for Originality” and “Prose Bowl” (this last coauthored with Barry N. Malzberg) show hack writers run amok; “Fergus O’Hara, Detective” and “Angel of Mercy” both set in the latter stages of the War Between the States, feature an ersatz Pinkerton agent and a nutty abortionist as their protagonists. A magician steals the show in “Quicker than the Eye” (coauthored with Michael Kurland), and cop partners consider stealing as a second career in “Opportunity.” The two shortest and weakest entries, “Mrs. Rakubian” and “I Didn’t Do It,” rely on lookalikes and incriminating nonconfessions for their effect, or lack thereof; a best friend’s murder and that of a revenue agent long ago come to light respectively in “Under the Skin” and “Smuggler’s Island.” Wine turns to vinegar and a wine cellar into a crypt in “Connoisseur”; a son outdoes his nasty daddy in “Chip”; and an overfriendly couple scare the bejesus out of another couple in “A Taste of Paradise.”
Are one limp Nameless story and a sheaf of apprentice work and also-rans worth the price of admission? You decide.