Twelve never-before-published stories, all featuring hard-to-medium-boiled shamuses--most of them familiar, some of them in good, sturdy form. Loren D. Estleman's reliable Amos Walker (see also the Hoch anthology, above) takes on a missing-wife case--and comes up with some neat psychosexual explanations. Sue Grafton's engaging Kinsey Millhone, the best of the female hard-boileds, zips through a curious case involving priceless guns, drag debts, and stroke patients. John Lutz's Nudger keeps tabs on a straying wife--only to find himself caught up in tragic anti-abortion violence. In a similarly half-satisfying tale--involving, atmospheric, yet anticlimatic--Arthur Lyons' lake Asch goes looking for a missing fiancÃ‰. . .and runs into emotional trauma instead of foul play. And there's decent, unpretentious pulp-action from Wayne D. Dundee (a psycho-killer on the loose), while Rob Kantner offers an intriguing variation on the killer-as-narrator gimmick. Otherwise, the series detectives here aren't up to anything special: Bill Pronzini's ""Nameless"" solves a quasi-locked-room murder; Stuart Kaminsky's Toby Peters (the Hollywood period sleuth) runs into D. W. Griffith at a convoluted dinner-party killing; Sara Paretsky's V. I. Warshawski gets tangled, over-laboriously, in a gambling/spying melodrama; Max Allan Collins' 1930's shamus Nate Heller relates an uninteresting tree-crime-based anecdote; and William Campbell Gault's Brock Callahan recalls a case involving the protection of a Hollywood starlet from porn-connected mobsters. All in all: solid, uninspired fare for hard-boiled fans--short on variety, but (within its limitations) more consistent than the Hoch anthology.