As editor Fish so rightly points out, in an ""environment of diminished forage"" the short mystery story has to be ""cunning, quicker, sharper, superior in all respects in order to survive."" The MWA annuals demonstrate this with increasing effectiveness--there are fewer convenient contrivances. John F. Suter's ""If You Can't Stand the Heat"" is a genuinely heartstopping device; for diversions, try Robert Bloch's catchy ""Rhyme Never Pays"" or William Brittain's absent-minded ""Man Who Read John Dickson Cart"" but forgot to lock the door. Or Henry Slesar's memory teacher who should have ignored the request of a client who couldn't remember some deadly digits. Joe Gores has his usual visceral punch and Margaret Millar hasn't lost her touch in a sad, gruesome story of a little mortician's achievement of life in death; not to forget Stanley Ellin--who would--along with the expected (respectful?) contributions of Boucher, Michael Gilbert and the entrepreneurs Ellery Queen. Twenty-five in all, and the year's best is just getting better and better.