These 14 previously published stories (from EQMM, AHMM, etc.) include a cornball go-round for Nameless (“The Big Bite”) in which he outsmarts one client and outdumbs another; a long yawn for Gilded Age sleuths John Quincannon and Sabina Carpenter (“The Highbinders”) that has them dodging Tong feuds, sniffing out opium dens, and locating a pilfered corpse; and a dreary SF adventure (“And Then We Went to Venus”) that drags along to a last-line meltdown. More successful are “Bank Job,” in which two heists intersect; “Wishful Thinking,” with its dueling marital fantasies; and “Liar’s Dice,” the ultimate stranger-at-the-bar encounter. A husband goes nuts in “Putting the Pieces Back,” and a wife stews interminably in “I Think I Will Not Hang Myself Today.” Also on hand: a paean to the pulps, “The Man Who Collected ‘The Shadow’ ”; a tale of extremely convoluted ratiocination, “The Arrowment Prison Riddle”; and a rollickingly original tale of house theft, “Caught in the Act.” For those who like a final twist, Pronzini provides “Shade Work,” a poker con’s comeuppance; “Out of the Depths,” an anecdote that throws a robber and an abuser up against a disgruntled housewife; and “The Dispatching of George Ferris,” a practical joker needled to death.
Despite the variety, there’s nothing new here—and nothing that Pronzini (Nothing But the Night, 1999, etc.) hasn’t served up fresher on other bills of fare. “Oddments” is right.