Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, April 27, 2012


Prime Suspects, edited by Bill Pronzini and Martin H. Greenberg (1987)

Every once in a while a mystery anthology hits just the right spot.  I had such a spot that needing hitting this week so I dived into this paperback from Ivy Books, a short-lived (I believe) imprint from Ballantine Books.  The introduction calls the book Prime Suspects #1 and states this was "the first of a series of anthologies devouted to bringing you some of the best -- and at the same time undeservedly neglected -- crimous stories by these talented writers, and by such other major names in popular fiction as Stephen King and John Jakes."  The book's cover, spine, and title page, however, dropped the #1 from the title and there the series ended.  Unfortunate, because future volumes were to include Isaac Asimov, Stanley Ellin, Sara Paretsky, James McClure, Harry Kemelman, Antonia Fraser, John Lutz, Ed Gorman, Brian Garfield, and Ellis Peters.

     (I hope my memory is faulty and more volume in the series were published, but I doubt it.  The series could have moved to another publisher and under a different name ((or names)).  Pronzini and Greenberg surely used those stories in other anthologies -- they were too good not to.)

     Anyway this volume gives us thirteen stories, including one original, from some damned good writers.  Although a number of the stories have since been reprinted, the only really familiar story (then and now) is Stephen King's Quitters, Inc., an even that one is not one of his most familiar stories.  Check out this lineup:

  • Stephen King, Quitters, Inc. (1978, from Night Shift)
  • Ruth Rendell, You Can't Be Too Careful (1976, from Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine)
  • Loren D. Estleman, People Who Kill (original to this anthology) [an Amos Walker story]
  • Donald E. Westlake, The Sweetest Man in the World (1967, from EQMM)
  • Ed McBain, Just for Kicks (1958, from Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine)
  • Bill Pronzini, Smuggler's Island (1977, from AHMM)
  • Marcia Muller, Wild Mustard (1984, from The Eyes Have It) [a Sharon McCone story]
  • John Jakes, Tex (1955, from Manhunt)
  • Edward D. Hoch, The Vanishing Men (1979, from EQMM as Captain Leopold and the Vanishing Men) {obviously a Captain Leopold story]
  • Lawrence Block, The Dettweiler Solution (1976, from AHMM) [a Dett-- well, you know]
  • William Campbell Gault, The Unholy Three (1956, from Manhunt) [a Joe Puma story]
  • P. D. James, The Girl Who Loved Graveyards (1983, from Winter's Crimes 15)
  • John D. MacDonald, The Killer (1954, from Manhunt)
     How can you resist a something like that?  All solid stories, by the way.

     You can't go wrong with a Pronzini anthology and when he joins forces with Greenberg, you've got a sure winner.

UPDATE:  Ivy Books published at least three other books in the series although they dropped the idea of titling the series Prime SuspectsSuspicious Characters, Criminal Elements, and Homicidal Acts followed the first volume.  All would be worthy editions to your library.


  1. That does sound impressive...and I suspect Ivy didn't last more than five years. I can't find any evidence of V. 2 here, either...I guess Pronzini and Greenberg just went on to other projects...

  2. Cool. I seemed to remember a similarly-titled set of Pronzini anthologies, hence my quick and dirty look-out for sequels.

    And, of course, Pronzini even w/o Greenberg has always been good for an interesting antho. Even though I think almost all of his anthos so far have been editorial collaborations with Barry Malzberg or Greenberg or both. One or two with the Better Half.

  3. And, of course, their UNCOLLECTED CRIMES antho was along the same lines...I FFB'd that one briefly a few years back.