Murder in the Library: The Mystery Writers of America Anthologies

Everybody into the Boat!

Okay, nobody’s ever going to mistake The Mystery Writers of America (MWA) for The Private Eye Writers of America (PWA), but private eye writers have played a major role in the MWA right from the beginning

Brett Halliday and Baynard Kendrick were both involved in the founding of the organization back in 1945, and other members of the shamus game have continued to play an often significant role, through the years, both as part of the rank and files, and as part of the executive.

They’ve also contributed ro the MWA’s long-running anthology series, which was started to raise funds for the fledgling organization’s treasury. The first anthology, Murder Cavalcade, was published in 1946, and since then, the MWA has averaged about one short-story anthology a year, often devoted to a theme, edited by best-selling writers and providing a showcase for members.

In fact, an awful lot of the earlier stories were contemporaneous P.I. stories–or what we now call “vintage.” For example, the anthology I’m slowly working my way through at the time of this writing, Crime for Two (1955), had a Mike Shayne story in it that was mostly written by Helen McCloy (she and Brett Halliday, Shayne’s creator, were married at the time).

Speaking of Mike Shayne, a beat-up old copy of Four and Twenty Bloodhounds, edited by Anthony Boucher, remains one of my most treasured early finds, picked up for a quarter (!) at a book sale in the basement of a church in St. Lambert, Quebec, about a million years ago. it included all sort of good P.I. stuff from the likes of Frank Kane, Vern Chute and James M. Fox, as well as “Michael Shayne as I Know Him”, the only non-fiction piece in the book, written by Halliday himself, who gives us the skinny on how he came to create his beloved eye.

1946Murder CavalcadeKen Crossen (un-credited)
Foreword by Richard Lockridge
1947Murder By ExpertsEllery Queen
1950Four-&-Twenty BloodhoundsAnthony Boucher
195120 Great Tales Of Murder
(aka “Murder Murder Murder”)
Helen McCloy & Brett Halliday
1952Maiden MurdersIntro by John Dickson Carr
1953Crooks TourBruno Fischer
1954Butcher, Baker, Murder-makerGeorge Harmon Coxe
1955Crime for TwoFrances & Richard Lockridge
1956Eat, Drink, And Be BuriedRex Stout
1957For Love or MoneyDorothy Gardiner
1957Dolls Are MurderHarold Q. Masur
1958Big-Time MysteriesBrett Halliday
1959The Lethal SexJohn D. MacDonald
1960The Comfortable CoffinRichard S. Prather
1961Tales for a Rainy NightDavid Alexander
1962Cream of the CrimeHugh Pentecost
1962Quality Of Murder: 100 Years of True CrimeAnthony Boucher
1963A Pride of FelonsThe Gordons
1964Crimes Across the SeaJohn Creasey
1965Masters of MayhemEdward D. Radin
1966Sleuths And ConsequencesThomas B. Dewey
1967Murder in MindLawrence Treat
1968With Malice Toward AllRobert L. Fish
1969Merchants of MenaceHilary Waugh
1970Crime Without MurderDorothy Salisbury Davis
1971Murder Most FoulHarold Q. Masur
1972Dear, Dead DaysEdward D. Hoch
1973Mirror, Mirror, Fatal MirrorHans Stefan Santesson
1974Killers of the MindLucy Freeman
1975Every Crime In The BookRobert L. Fish
1976Tricks and TreatsJoe Gores & Bill Pronzini
1977When Last SeenArthur Maling
1978I, WitnessBrian Garfiled
1978Cop CodeJohn Ball
1979Woman’s WilesMichele B. Slung, Gene Stone
1980The Edgar WinnersBill Pronzini
1981All But Impossible! Impossible CrimesEdward D. Hoch
1982A Special Kind Of CrimeLawrence Treat
1983EQ Presents Best Short StoriesEllery Queen
1984Mystery Hall of FameBill Pronzini, Martin H. Greenberg & Hilary Waugh
1984The Crime Of My LifeBrian Garfield
1986Last LaughsGregory McDonald
1987Murder on the AisleMary Higgins Clark
1987Murder California Style SoCal ChapterJon L. Breen
1988Distant DangerJanwillem Van De Wetering
1989Beastly TalesSara Paretsky
1989Plots And Pans: Recipes And AntidotesNancy Jean Webb
1990The New Edgar WinnerMartin H. Greenberg
1992Mystery Writers of AmericaSara Paretsky
1993The Fine Art of MurderEd Gorman, Martin H. Greenberg & Jon L. Breen
1994Guilty As ChargedScott Turow
1999Diagnosis DeadJonathan Kellerman
2000The Night AwakensMary Higgins Clark
2001Master’s ChoiceLawrence Block
2002Blood on Their HandsLawrence Block
2003A Hot And Sultry Night For CrimeJeffrey Deaver
2004Show Business is MurderStuart Kaminsky
2006Death Do Us PartHarlan Coben
2008The Blue ReligionMichael Connelly
2009The Prosecution RestsLinda Fairstein
2009In The Shadow Of The MasterMichael Connelly
2009On a Raven’s WingStuart Kaminsky
2010Crimes By MoonlightCharlaine Harris
2011The Rich And The DeadNelson Demille
2012VengeanceLee Child
2013The Mystery BoxBrad Meltzer
2013Ice ColdJeffrey Deaver & Raymond Benson
2015Manhattan MayhemMary Higgins Clark
2015The Mystery Writers of America CookbookKate White
2018Scream and Scream AgainR.L. Stine
2019Odd PartnersAnne Perry
2020Deadly AnniversariesMarcia Muller & Bill Pronzini
2022Crime Hits HomeS.J. Rozan


List compiled by Abbey in Boston, and updated by Kevin Burton Smith.


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