Less varied, less engaging than The Good Old Stuff (1982): a further sampling of late-1940s stories from MacDonald's Dime Detective/Black Mask period. Mobsters and con-men dominate too many of these unoriginal, usually overlong pieces, with some of the same formula-twists on display in Mickey Spillane's recent gathering of pulp-work. (Tomorrow I Die, p. 329.) There are dim echoes of James M. Cain and Dashiell Hammett in tales of husband-murder and city corruption. Other pieces show the (somewhat more freshly used) influence of Cornell Woolrich. And throughout there's MacDonald's often-dated interest in abnormal psychology--with a frontal lobotomy, a couple of amnesiacs, and a loony-bin/blackmail operation. Okay by pulp standards, with glimmers (just glimmers) of the lean, quick MacDonald style to come--but not nearly as bright or crisp as the first collection.