Most of Block's better--and funnier--short stories were collected in Sometimes They Bite. This second gathering, with 18 stories originally printed in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine and elsewhere (plus two originals), includes too much that's humdrum or contrived, with little of Block's zesty, dark-edged comedy. The title piece is a longish outing for ex-cop hero Matthew Scudder (A Stab in the Dark), investigating the death of a bag-lady--with sentimental inquiries into her warmhearted, people-loving life. At the other, cynical extreme are two vignettes featuring a ruthless lawyer named Ehrengraf, who'll go to any lengths to win acquittal for his murder-case clients. And "The Books Always Balance" is a solid nasty-twist tale of blackmail and adultery. Among the other, lesser entries: lots of double-crossing thieves, a dab of ESP, a tough kidnap victim, a clever wife-killer--and "Death of the Mallory Queen," a strained in-crowd parody full of references to the publishers and writers in today's mystery-fiction biz. Competent, mystery-magazine work overall, but entirely undistinguished.