Volume I of MacDonald's best work for the pulp-mystery magazines--murder, crime, and adventure tales written between 1947 and 1952 for such journals as Doc Savage, Detective Tales, and New Detective. And are they indeed the "good old stuff?" Well, yes and no. By pulp standards, certainly, they are masterpieces of understatement--more Cain than Spillane, with crisp, straight storytelling instead of hard-boiled mannerisms. By more general mystery-story standards, they're a mixed lot. And, for Travis McGee fans, there's the fun of spotting early McGee prototypes. The standouts: a longish but well-paced murder case for insurance investigator Darrigan, the most McGee-ish of the heroes; and "Death Writes the Answer," a short, ironic, husband-out-to-kill-wife winner. The weakest: the very draggy "They Let Me Live," in which a WW II vet sleuths around the world, trying to clear the name of an old, dead buddy; and two mysteries solved by Park Falkner, a corny super-hero. (The most surprising: "Miranda," a tricky psychological thriller that almost works.) Don't expect McGee or greatness, then--but, despite some uneasy attempts at updating, this is good-enough old stuff for low-key pleasure.