Coming so soon after Queen's varied-source Masks of Mystery (p. 269), this selection of 21 stories from the 1976 output of EQ's Mystery Magazine pales by comparison. Even Ruth Rendell's offering--a giddy variation on her wife-killing preoccupation--is below par, leaving the honors to Joyce Harrington's understated prelude to psychotic murder, Jack Ritchie's utterly delightful ""Nobody Tells Me Anything,"" and Patricia Highsmith's grisly, not-completely-convincing portrait of sheer, lethal cussedness. Competent work too from John Ball (the first Virgil Tibbs short story) and Joe Gores (a D.K.A. surveillance caper)--but far too many of the stories here fall into the silly-historical genre or the psycho-pretentious genre, like Etta Revesz' award-winning ""Like a Terrible Scream"" (which also appears in last year's Best Detective Stories). No reason to expect every twelve-month of EQMM to generate a rewarding volume; 1976 just wasn't a very good year for (literary) crime.