Hard-boiled : Anthology of American Crime Stories

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What are the ingredients of a hard-boiled detective story? "Savagery, style, sophistication, sleuthing and sex," said Ellery Queen. Often a desperate blond, a jealous husband, and, of course, a tough-but-tender P.I. the likes of Sam Spade or Philop Marlowe. Perhaps Raymond Chandler summed it up best in his description of Dashiell Hammett's style: "Hammett gave murder back to the kind of people that commit it....He put these people down on paper as they were, and he made them talk and think in the language they customarily used for these purposes." Hard-Boiled: An Anthology of American Crime Stories is the largest and most comprehensive collection of its kind, with over half of the stories never published before in book form. Included are thirty-six sublimely suspenseful stories that chronicle the evolutiuon of this quintessentially American art form, from its earliest beginnings during the Golden Age of the legendary pulp magazine Black Mask in the 1920s, to the arrival of the tough digest Manhunt in the 1950s, and finally leading up to present-day hard-boiled stories by such writers as James Ellroy. Here are eight decades worth of the best writing about betrayal, murder, and mayhem: from Hammett's 1925 tour de force "The Scorched Face," in which the disappearance of two sisters leads Hammett's never-named detective, the Continental Op, straight into a web of sexual blackmail amidst the West Coast elite, to Ed Gorman's 1992 "The Long Silence After," a gripping and powerful rendezvous involving a middle class insurance executive, a Chicago streetwalker, and a loaded .38. Other delectable contributions include "Brush Fire" by James M. Cain, author of The Postman Always Rings Twice, Raymond Chandler's "I'll Be Waiting," where, for once, the femme fatale is not blond but a redhead, a Ross Macdonald mystery starring Macdonald's most famous creation, the cryptic Lew Archer, and "The Screen Test of Mike Hammer" by the one and only Micky Spillane. The hard-boiled cult has more in common with the legendary lawmen of the Wild West than with the gentleman and lady sleuths of traditional drawing room mysteries, and this direct line of descent is on brilliant display in two of the most subtle and tautly written stories in the collection, Elmore Leonard's "3:10 to Yuma" and John D. MacDonald's "Nor Iron Bars." Other contributors include Evan Hunter (better known as Ed McBain), Jim Thompson, Helen Nielsen, Margaret Maron, Andrew Vachss, Faye Kellerman, and Lawrence Block. Compellingly and compulsively readable, Hard-Boiled: An Anthology of American Crime Stories is a page-turner no mystery lover will want to be without. Containing many notable rarities, it celebrates a genre that has profoundly shaped not only American literature and film, but how we see our heroes and oursleves.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 540 pages
  • 147.32 x 210.82 x 43.18mm | 725.74g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195084993
  • 9780195084993

About Bill Pronzini

About the Editors: Bill Pronzini is a well-known mystery and suspense writer of over forty novels, and is best known as the creator of the "Nameless Detective" series. He served as the first president of the Private Eye Writers of America, and won that organization's Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987. Jack Adrian is an authority ono popular and genre fiction in the twentieth century, and is the author of many books, including anthologies such as Strange Tales from the Strand, and Detective Stories from the Strand (both OUP 1991).show more

Review quote

"Hard-Boiled: An Anthology of American Crime Stories, edited by Bill Pronzini and Jack Adrian, present[s] seven decades of grimly realistic tales, each 'so hard-boiled it could break your teeth.'"--The Wall Street Journal"Editors Bill Pronzini and Jack Adrian clearly know their stuff. "I'll Be Waiting" is Raymond Chandler's most subtly melancholy tale, and "Three-Ten to Yuma" reminds us that even when Elmore Leonard wrote Westerns, he never saw a white hat he didn't want to soil."--Newsweek"Ranges from Dashiell Hammett and W.R. Burnett in the 1920s, when the hard-boiled style emerged as a recognizable subgenre of crime fiction, to James Ellroy and Lawrence in the '90s....A thoughtful introduction salutes the role of Spillane in revitalizing the genre."--Los Angeles Times Book Review"No one knows more about the hard-boiled American mystery than Pronzini and Adrian. Here's a book that belongs on every reader's shelf--after they've enjoyed a week or two of pure pleasure savoring its contents."--Edward D. Hoch, editor The Year's Best Mystery and Suspense Stories"The best-balanced, best-edited selection available today. No matter how long your shelf of hard-boiled anthologies, you'll want this one."--Kirkus Reviewsshow more

Review Text

Even though all 36 stories here are reprints, this anthology is notable, and highly desirable, for several reasons. The editors have chosen stories from the 1920's the earliest days of Black Mask, to the 1990's; by keeping the contributors down to one story apiece, they've been able to include seldom-seen gems by the likes of Daniel Mainwaring, William Cole, David Goodis, and Jim Thompson; and even the obligatory contributors are often represented by surprising choices (apart from the inescapable selections by Hammett, Chandler, and Ross Macdonald, there are offbeat entries by Elmore Leonard and Margaret Maron, and even a Mickey Spillane novelty). The main revelation of the volume's chronological arrangement is to show how much better written the later stories are, without any loss of toughness (vide the evidence of Faye Kellerman and Ed Gorman). The best-balanced, best-edited selection available today. No matter how long your shelf of hard-boiled anthologies, you'll want this one. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

130 ratings
4.16 out of 5 stars
5 39% (51)
4 41% (53)
3 18% (23)
2 2% (2)
1 1% (1)
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