Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, May 8, 2020


This One Will Kill You, edited by Alfred Hitchcock (1971)

It should come as no surprise that Alfred Hitchcock never edited a thing.  The Hitchcock name was popular and a number of publishers cashed in on that fact and licensed the name.  A long series of ghost editors, including Don Ward. Robert Arthur, Hal Masur, Henry Viet, Peter Haining, and persons unknown, produced a long string of anthologies from 1945's Suspense Stories (Dell) on.  It was not until 1976 that named editors , beginning with Eleanor Sullivan and, later Cathleen Jordan, appeared on Hitchcock anthologies; this was with regularly-spaced anthologies of stories from Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine.  (AHMM was founded in 1956 by HSD Publications; it is still alive today after changing publishers first, in 1975 with Davis Publications, then in 1992 by Dell Magazines.)

A slew of paperback "Hitchcock" anthologies appeared in the 70s by Dell Publishing, each mining past issues of AHMM for its contents.  The magazine was noted for fast, clever, and ultimately forgettable stories that covered the range of mystery and crime fiction, often with an ironic twist at the end.  Midlist writers and short story specialists filled each issue.  The Dell paperbacks, using AHMM as its source, were basically interchangeable -- entertaining, slight, with nothing to make one anthology stand out from another.

There also a series of paperback anthologies published solely in England and ghost-edited by Peter Haining.  Which brings us to This One Will Kill You, reportedly edited by Haining but published first by Dell before being published in British paperback the following year.  The lineup features some of AHMM's most popular authors including Jack Ritchie (who had over 100 stories published in the magazine), James Holding, John Lutz, Henry Slesar, C. B. Gilford, and Robert Colby. Ritchie wrote short stories exclusively, while Holding and Gilford mainly wrote short stories; others were noted for their novels as well as their prodigious short story output.  Richard Deming, John Lutz, Ed Lacy, and Hal Ellson -- all represented here -- were (and, in the case of Lutz, are) well-regarded for their novels.

It's is hard to pick the best from the anthology's tales.  All are good, but none are outstanding.  In other words, this and other Dell anthologies are basically comfort food -- nourishing but not memorable.  Luckily, we all need comfort food from time to time.

The contents:

  • "Jonathan Craig" (Frank E. Smith), "Six Skinny Coffins" (AHMM, January 1969)
  • Richard Deming, "The Clock Is Cuckoo" (AHMM, May 1969)
  • "Jack Ritchie" (John George Reitci), "Plan 19" (AHMM, April 1966)
  • James Holding, "The Misopedist" (AHMM, April 1968)
  • John Lutz, "Fair Shake" (AHMM, April 1968)
  • Henry Slesar, "Item" (AHMM, July 1962)
  • "Ed Lacy" (Leonard S. Zinberg), "Curtain Speech" (AHMM, February 1962)
  • Richard Hardwick, "His Brother's Caper" (AHMM, March 1966)
  • Robert Edmond Alter, "The Shunned House" (AHMM, May, 1966)
  • C. B. Gilford, "Don't Call It Murder" (AHMM, April 1966)
  • Michael Brett [not the "Michael Brett" that is a pseudonym of Douglas Sanderson, and not the "Michael Brett that is a pseudonym of Leslie Frederick Brett], "Comfort, In a Land of Strangers" (AHMM, April 1969)
  • Hal Ellson, "Where Credit Is Due" (AHMM, June 1969)
  • Fletcher Flora, "Variations on an Episode" (AHMM, February 1967)
  • Robert Colby, "Voice in the Night" (AHMM, April 1969)

In this time of pandemic, self-isolation, and a government that is trying open the economy prematurely, comfort food can be sustaining.


  1. I guess selling your name can be a lucrative enterprise.

  2. had no idea that Alfred Hitchcock did not edit these anthologies. Thanks for sharing that info. Have read a couple of these anthologies and quite liked the stories.

  3. Well, Neeru, not all the anthologies were taken from ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S MYSTERY MAGAZINE, by any means...the best anthologies were the ones edited by Don Ward (published before the magazine was founded), Robert Arthur (an adult series of ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS: anthologies that began with one anthology devoted to stories the NBC censors wouldn't let the tv series adapt, and the only book in the series Random House published ghost-edited, apparently, by Patricia Hitchcock, AH's daughter, instead...then the Arthur books began); and, soon after, a young readers' series also edited by Arthur (and then a series of mysteries for kids called ALFRED HITCHCOCK AND THE THREE INVESTIGATORS, which Arthur created and wrote several of). Arthur died rather you, and Harold Q. Masur came in and edited the adult books, and Henry Viet edited two more young readers' anthologies...those were better on average than the Best-ofs from the magazine, though I think I like the magazine a little more than Jerry does.

    The first Dell best-ofs the magazine actually began in 1962, with ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S A HANGMAN'S OOZEN, which also happened accidentally to be the first AHMM-derived anthology I owned (I still remember the C. B. Gilford horror story included fondly). Eleanor Sullivan started getting her name on the AH anthologies after Davis Publications bought AHMM and started issuing semi-annual ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S ANTHOLOGY issues to go along with their long-running ELLERY QUEEN'S ANTHOLOGY issues, and those were published in hardcovers simultaneously, probably mostly for libraries, by the Dial Press arm of Dell.

    Frank Babics's list of "Hitchcock" books isn't completely accurate--since Dell, particularly, has made sure over the years to make that difficult at best--one of the most common errors is one he replicates, mixing up Dell's AHMM collection AH'S WITCHES' BREW with Random House's later, utterly separate young readers' anthology, the last and the second one edited by Henry Viet, AH'S WITCH'S BREW (note slightly differing title)--but it's pretty close.

    THE ALFRED HITCHCOCK ZONE gets a few things more correct, and a few others less so, but also is Pretty Good:

    My FFB on the "Hitchcock" Witches volumes:

  4. Robert Arthur died rather young, that is, in 1969...almost as big a secret as who edited the Dell paperbacks other than Haining is what killed Arthur.

  5. Thanks for such an informative reply, Todd. I think I too have read A Hangman's Dozen but don't remember anything about it. The one that I do remember had Hilda Lawrence's Composition for Four Hands.

    The Three Investigators have always been a favourite and when I was in school, I thought, that those books were written by Alfred Hitchcock. Don't think the editions I read carried the names of Robert Arthur or William Arden on cover. What is all this mystery about Arthur's death?