Hoch's introduction announces, without explanation, that this 35th annual collection is ""the final volume"" in the Best Detective Stories series (""at least for the present""); and though Hoch's recent yearly selections haven't seemed especially discerning (with his own stories popping up all too regularly), the series will be missed--if only for the valuable appendices. As for the 16 stories here, they're a solid but uninspired bunch, with top honors to ironic end-twisters by Clark Howard (the Edgar-winner, set against a New Orleans jazz background), Peter Lovesey (in a non-Victorian mode), and ever-reliable Jack Ritchie. Mild amusement is provided by one of James Holding's library-fine detective stories, one of the late Robert L. Fish's ""Shlock Homes"" parodies (epically dumb detection at 221B Bagel St.), and by Jerry Jacobson's ""Correspondence with a Bicycle Thief""--in which the anonymous thief and his victim (who's picking up clues from the letters) trade snowballing insults. There's pure-puzzle detection from Bill Pronzini and Lillian de la Torre (a locked-room case for Dr. Johnson, based on a true-crime tale). And--along with dullish work by ion L. Breen (a ghost racehorse), William Bankier (homicidal jealousy among Canadian rock-musicians), William F. Nolan, Barbara Callahan (in rural dialect), Ernest Savage, editor Hoch, and way-below-par Ruth Rendell--there's a whimsical Barry N. Malzberg parable about Who Killed the Twentieth Century (was it advertising or television?). Far from memorable this year--but the series deserves a comeback.