Forgive me, Ross and John Macd (D). and Robert B. Parker, but the real pulps--even the scattershot sampling here--put you to shame. True, there's probably no newsbreak in Chandler's entry (""Goldfish"") being a stunner: lean, grisly, and resonant without benefit of metaphors from the hip. But who'd have dared to anticipate the edgy humors, shapely plotting, and say-that-again dialogue (""Call him a rat again, Rube, and I'll hit you with a radiator"") delivered by Frederick Nebel and Merle Constiner? Or the lingering, non-archaeological appeal of a 1922 anti-hero who insists, ""I ain't a crook; just a gentleman adventurer."" Even the E. S. Gardner assembly line product substitutes some flesh for the usual cardboard. Some duds, of course. Two from Hammett (one his second published story--under a pseudonym) disappoint with mere competence, and there's a trio of detectiveless anecdotes, thankfully brief, but--with 30 million Black Mask words to choose from--unforgivable. A longer introduction would have been a treat, or, better yet, some author thumbnailing. But never mind. Whether the bylines are touchstones or mysteries, some of the purest American ever written will always be (from Constiner) ""well worth an ocular tour.