Dropped by Dutton, the annual Best Mystery and Suspense series comes back to life at Walker--with the usual mix of genuine standouts and strangely mediocre entries. Jack Ritchie's ""The Absence of Emily"" (the Edgar-winning story of the year) is a cut above all the rest: a black-comic, wife-murder tale with one extra twist. Brian Garfield offers an obvious but taut little revenge anecdote. And Ron Goulart provides some whimsical relief with a plagiarism comedy about a Robert Ludlum-like mega-writer--while Jonathan Gash offers an inept detective (who's not nearly as funny as Joyce Porter's Dover) and Donald E. Westlake brings back the Dort-munder gang for a mildly amusing bit of art-theft. Otherwise, however, it's very run-of-the-mill material--from editor Hoch's own locked-room mystery (a particularly uninventive one) to Joyce Harrington's psycho-suspense (inferior to her earlier work) and buried-bodies with Ursula Curtiss and Michael Gilbert. Plus: revenge-in-Vietnam from Asa Baber, an okay short-short by Clements Jordan, and lesser efforts by Donald Olson and others. Overall, only slightly higher in quality than the frequent Queen/Hitchcock anthologies--but a welcome return nonetheless, especially with the year's bibliographic information as appendix.