Murder in the Library: Other Mystery Anthologies Worth Hunting For

Worthwhile collections of original and reprinted stories that don’t necessarily feature private eyes exclusively

Until the eighties, I don’t think anyone had ever thought of doing a collection of just private eye stories.  But that doesn’t mean there weren’t plenty of great private eye short stories, novellas, novelettes and the like, both classic reprints and edgy originals, that found their way into anthologies. Here are a few worth checking out:



  • Stout, Rex, and Louis Greenfield, editors,
    Rue Morgue No. 1 Buy this book
    New York, Creative Age Press, 1946.
    This eclectic and relatively hard-to-find anthology rounds up stories from various pulp magazines, including Ray Bradbury’s “The Watchers” from Weird Tales, but also boasts several treats for the hard-boiled fan, including a rare Johnny Liddell story (featuring a gimmick Stout himself would later use in one of his own stories, “The Gun with Wings,” three years later), and entries from Bruno Fisher, Dorothy Dunn, Kerry O’Neil, Robert Leslie Bellen, and D. L. Champion.
  • Roberts, Garyn G., editor,
    A Cent A Story! The Best From Ten Detective Aces Buy this book
    Featuring stories from Paul Chadwick, Lester Dent, GT Fleming-Roberts, Norvell Page, Emile C Tepperman.
  • Pronzini, Bill and Martin H. Greenberg, editors.
    Prime Suspects (1987)
    Suspicious Characters (1987)
    Criminal Elements (1988)
    Homicidal Acts (1988)
    Deadly Doings (1989)
    Felonious Assaults (1989)
    New York: Ivy Books, 1987-1989.
    An impressive but short-lived series of anthologies published by Ivy Books and featuring reprints from Manhunt, MSMM, AHMM and EQMM. Authors included Gault, Bradbury, Randisi, McBain, Gorman, Westlake, Prather, Grafton, Lutz, Jakes, Estleman, Pronzini, Block, Michael Collins…in other words, a lot of writers nobody ever heard of….Some were PI stories, series and non-series, but the overall quality of the series was pretty high. Just a great, great series.
    By the way, In 1990, Ivy did print a PI anthology, called P.I. Files, also edited by Greenberg (does this guy sleep?) and Loren Estleman, very much the same sort of format as the others, that’s also worth hunting for.
  • Jakubowski, Maxim,
    New Crimes
    London: Robinson Publishing, 1989
    Despite what the blurb says, “The very best in new American and British crime writing”, this anthology, first of a series, also features reprints, some of them almost forty years old. Doesn’t matter, though. The selections, from Brits like Barry Fantoni and Mike Ripley, as well as Yanks like Robert Crumley and Andrew Vachss, make it worth your time.
  • Jon E. Lewis, editor
    Red Handed: An Anthology of Radical Crime Stories
    London: Allison & Busby, 1989.
    A ballsy collection of crime short stories with a decided left slant, ranging from Jack London and Chester Himes to Gordon DeMarco and Jim Thompson. Interesting collection, and interesting intro, wherein editor Jon E. Lewis states that a “central concern of Dashiell Hammett’s works…is the civic corruption which grew up in the wake of Prohibition. As Hammett revealed, corruption had become all-pervasive…In such a world the only guarantor of justice was the shamus or private eye.”
  • Zimmerman, Howard, Seymour Reit & Barbara Brenner, editors,
    The Bank Street Book of Mystery Buy this book
    New York: Pocket Books, 1989.
    Book packager extraordinaire Byron Preiss (Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, ibooks, etc.) developed titles for numerous publishers over the years, including a series of educational comic books adapting the stories of well-known genre authors for Pocket Books, in conjunction with the Bank Street College of Education. This mystery-themed volume included private eye tales by Richard Layman and Michael Collins (featuring a one-armed P.I. named Fortune), as well as stories by Ed Gorman, Fredric Brown, Edgar Allan Poe, Bret Harte, David Morrell, O. Henry and more. The art is serviceable, if not spectacular, mostly by unknowns (the exception being the always satisfying Rick Geary), and each story is followed by a series of questions designed to prompt discussion among young readers.
  • Jakubowski, Maxim, editor,
    New Crimes 2
    London: Robinson Publishing, 1990.
    The second volume of this excellent British series include a Mike Dime tale by Barry Fantoni, as well as some choice reprints from Ed Gorman, Paul Buck and Bill Pronzini.
  • Various authors, preface by James Ellroy
    Fallen Angels Buy this book
    New York: Grove Press, 1993,
    Intriguing collection of six classic noir and hard-boiled tales by some of the masters (Chandler, Gault, Ellroy, JimThompson), and the screenplays of their television adaptations, as directed by people like Steven Soderbergh, Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, and Phil Joanou, from the 1993 Showtime crime anthology of the same name. See Fallen Angels for more info.
  • Chase, Elaine Raco, editor.
    Partners in Crime
    New York: Signet, 1994.
    Stories of mismatched detectives, by the author of the Roman Cantrell/Nikki Holden mysteries. Includes stories featuring PI’s Dan Fortune, Kiernan O’Shaugnessy, and Jenny Gordon.
  • Spillane, Mickey and Max Allan Collins
    Murder Is My Business
    New York: Signet, 1994.
    Excellent anthology of original stories about hired killers, including one featuring co-editor Collins’ own Quarry. And the hits just keep on comin’…
  • Woods, Paula A., editor.
    Spooks, Spies and Private Eyes: Black Mystery Crime and Suspense Fiction of the 20th Century Buy this book
    Doubleday, 1995.
    A landmark anthology, as editor Paula Woods, backed up by a primo selection of short stories and excerpts, traces the development of black mystery and crime writers. Authors include Walter Mosley, Richard Wright, Gar Haywood, John A. Williams, Gary Phillips, and Hugh Horton. Recommended.
  • Turow, Scott, editor.
    Guilty As Charged: A Mystery Writers of America Anthology
    New York: Pocket Books, 1996.
    Stories about the legal system, including tales about Sharon McCone and John Francis Cuddy.
  • Spillane, Mickey and Max Allan Collins
    Vengeance Is Hers
    New York: Signet, 1997.
    Excellent anthology featuring 16 stories by “hard-boiled, hard-hitting women writers,” including P.I. tales by Jan Grape, Nancy Pickard, Wendi Lee, L.J. Washburn and S.J. Rozan.
  • Penzler, Otto, editor.
    Murder For Love (1996) Buy this book
    Murder For Revenge (1998) Buy this book
    Murder and Obsession (1999) Buy this book
    New York: Random House, 1996-99.
    Promising but short-lived series of modern pulp collections, with original stories by some of the best writers in the biz at the time, including Kent Anderson, James Crumley, Edna Buchanan, James W. Hall, Lawrence Block, Ed McBain and Dennis Lehane. Most of the stories are one-shots, although some do feature recurring series characters.
  • Penzler, Otto, series editor
    The Best American Mystery Stories 1997-2020
    New York: Mariner Books, 1997-2015.
    A solid and ongoing series of annual collections of each year’s best from Penzler, with an annual guest editor riding shotgun. Highlights include tales by John Lutz, Stuart Kaminsky, as well as some great yarns by David Ballard, Lawrence Block (Keller), Jay McInerny, Walter Mosley (Socrates), Tom Franklin, Joyce Carol Oates, John Updike, Stephen King, Gregory Fallis, L.L. Thrasher (Zachariah Smith), Doug Allyn, Shel Silverstein, Bentley Dadmun, Jeffery Deaver, Dennis Lehane and Barbara D’Amato, while the guest editors have included  Robert B. Parker, Sue Grafton, Ed McBain, Donald Westlake, Lawrence Block, James Ellroy, Michael Connelly, Scott Turow, Carl Hiaasen, George Pelecanos, Lee Child, Robert Crais, Laura Lippmann, James Patterson and Jonathan Lethem… so far.
  • Hess, Joan, editor
    Funny Bones Buy this book
    New York: Signet, 1997.
    A collection of humourous crime shorts. Includes non-series tales by folks like Gar Anthony Haywood, Susan Dunlap and Nancy Pickard, plus a Lew Fonesca story by Stuart Kaminsky and a Sam McCain yarn by Ed Gorman.
  • Wheat, Carolyn, editor
    Murder on Route 66 Buy this book
    New York: Berkeley Prime Crime, 1999.
    Interesting anthology of crime stories set along the mythic Route 66. Includes a non-series tale by Charles Knief, an Ivan Monk yarn by Gary Phillips and a Leo Bloodworth story by Dick Lochte.
  • Block, Lawrence, editor,
    Death Cruise: Crime Stories on the Open Seas Buy this book
    Cumberland House Publishing, 1999.
    The prime reason for owning this one has to be Benjamin Schutz’ “Lost and Found,” wherein he wraps up his late, great series featuring private eye Leo Haggerty.
  • Mason, Cynthia, and Kathleen Halligan, editors,
    Murder Intercontinental: Twenty Tales of Murder in Exotic Places  Buy this book
    Berkeley Prime Crime, 1999.
    An interesting collection of crime fiction in locations around the world, including tales featuring P.I.s Carlos Bannon and Joe Caneili.
  • Gorman, Ed & Greenberg, Martin H., editors,
    The World’s Finest Mystery and Crime Stories (2000) Buy this book
    The World’s Finest Mystery and Crime Stories, Second Edition (2001) Buy this book
    The World’s Finest Mystery and Crime Stories, Third Edition (2002) Buy this book
    The World’s Finest Mystery and Crime Stories, Fourth Edition (2003) Buy this book
    The World’s Finest Mystery and Crime Stories, Fifth Edition (2004) Buy this book
    The Adventure of the Missing Detective and 25 of the Year’s Best Crime and Mystery Stories (2005) Buy this book
    The Deadly Bride and 19 of the Year’s Finest Crime and Mystery Stories (2006) Buy this book
    Wolf Woman Bay and 9 More of the Finest Crime and Mystery Novellas of the Year! (2007) Buy this book
    Carroll & Graf/Forge Books, 2000-07.
    An annual series of collections, highlighting the best in short crime fiction, that struggled to compete with Otto Penzler’s Best American Mystery Stories, edited by crime writer Ed Gorman and anthologist Martin Greenberg, with a decidedly international flavour. Besides some great stories from some of the best in the biz, essays assessing the current crime fiction scene around the globe top off the volumes. In 2005, the publishers chose to jazz up the rather generic title by spotlight an individual story, but it was the same great series, and still a class act, all the way. But it never caught on, the way it should have.
  • Malloy, William and Sara Ann Freed, editors,
    The Mysterious Press Anniversary Anthology: Celebrating 25 Years Buy this book
    New York: Mysterious Press, 2001.
    Stories from Joe Gores (DKA). Loren Estelman (Amos Walker) and Marcia Muller (McCone), as well as James Crumley, Ed McBain, Donald E. Westlake, Lindsey Davis, Jerome Charyn, Joe R. Lansdale, Stuart M. Kaminsky, Archer Mayor, Robert Greer, Margaret Maron, M.C. Beaton, Charlotte Carter, and Beth Saulnier, all to help celebrate the 25th anniversay of Otto Penzler’s Mysterious Press (now owned by Warners).
  • Pittman, Joseph, and Annette Riffle, editors,
    And the Dying Is Easy: All New Tales of Summertime Suspense Buy this book
    New York: Signet, 2001.
    Includes P.I., stories by Max Allan Collins (Nate Heller), Andy Straka (Frank Pavlicek), Selma Eichler (Desiree Shapiro) and John Lantigua (Willie Cuesta), as well as stories by the likes of Peter King, Lydia Adamson, Tamar Myers, Peter Tremayne, Judith Van Giesen, k.j.a. Wishnia and my ol’ buddy Matt Witten.
  • Penzler, Otto, editor,
    Murderer’s Row Buy this book
    New Millenium Press, 2001.
    Here’s a neat twist on an antholgy. Each story is about crime and baseball, and more than a few of ’em are by writers near and dear to readers of this site. Contributors include Lawrence Block (with a Keller story), Max Allan Collins (Nate Heller), Michael Connelly, K.C. Constantine, Elmore Leonard, John Lescroart, Laura Lippman (Tess Monaghan), Mike Lupica, Robert B. Parker (a rare short story, about a bodyguard assigned to protect Jackie Robinson, that was later expanded into his novel Double Play), Thomas Perry, Henry Slesar and others, with an intro by former pitcher and Ball Four author Jim Bouton.
  • Penzler, Otto, editor,
    The Mighty Johns and Other Stories Buy this book
    New Millenium Press, 2002.
    Are you ready for some football??? Penzler quarterbacks this solid anthology of gridiron-themed stories by some of crime fiction’s heaviest hitters, including David Baldacci, Lawrence Block, Dennis Lehane, Colin Harrision, James Crumley, Brad Meltzer, Mike Lupica, Brendan DuBois, John Westermann, Peter Robinson, Carol O’Connell, Gary Phillips and Anne Perry, who chips in a rugby story.
  • Penzler, Otto, editor,
    Murder on the Ropes Buy this book
    New Millenium Press, 2002.
    Another sports-related anthology edited by Otto Penzler, featuring boxing stories this time around. This one features a couple of rather hard-to-find P.I. stories, too, by the likes of John Shannon, Stuart Kaminsky and Andrew Bergman.
  • Ohmart, Ben, editor,
    It’s That Time Again Buy this book
    BearManor Media, 2002.
    Now here’s an interesting concept: a collection of short stories based on characters from old time radio shows. Unfortunately, this volume covers not just crime and detective shows, but the entire gamut of old-time radio, from Our Miss Brooks and The Bickersons to Tom Mix and Ma Perkins. Still, there are original stories featuring OTR private eyes Candy Matson, Pat Novak, Johnny Dollar and even Richard Rogue of Rogue’s Gallery.
  • McMillan, Dennis, editor,
    Measures of Poison Buy this book
    Dennis McMillan Publications, 2002.
    Legendary hard-boiled small-press publisher McMillan coughed up this hefty chunk of a collection, featuring twenty-three original stories by top-notch guys like James Crumley, Michael Connelly, Bill Pronzini, Bob Truluck, Michael Connelly, Gary Phillips, his brother Scott, James Sallis, and George P. Pelecanos, plus an unpublished tale by Charles Willeford and an unproduced screenplay by Howard Browne. A lot of the stories are set in the thirties, but there isn’t a dog in the bunch.
  • Breen, Jon L. editor,
    Mystery: The Best of 2002 Buy this book
    New York: ibooks, 2003.
    Remember those beloved old paperback short story collections from the fifties and sixties, culled from digests like Manhunt, AHMM, EQMM, and MSMM, et al, and “edited by” Alfred Hitchcock and Mike Shayne? Well, with contributions from crime masters like George Pelecanos, Michael Collins and Clark Howard, Jon Breen’s new collection of some of the best from 2002 is THAT good. Short, hard, fast. And entertaining as hell. Not to mention relatively cheap. Forget those high-priced spreads — this is the real deal. P.I. fans, in particular, will enjoy the Dan Fortune short story, “Twilight’s Last Gleaming,” and get a genuine kick out of Mike Doogan’s “War Can Be Murder,” which has an aging Sergeant “Sam” Hammett stationed in Alaska, playing amateur sleuth. And Pelecanos’ sexually-charged “The Dead Their Eyes Implore Us,” reprinted from last year’s Measures of Poison, is simply to die for.
  • Bland, Eleanor Taylor, editor,
    Shades of Black: Crime and Mystery Stories by African-American Authors Buy this book
    New York: Berkely Crime, 2004.
    Spotty collection of tales by black crime writers, definitely marred by the editor’s introduction, which suffers from a sort of selective reinterpretation of crime fiction history. But some of the stories are great. Private eye tales are included by Tracy P. Clark, Robert Greer and Penny Micklebury, and there are intriguing non-P.I. tales by Walter Mosley and Gary Phillips.
  • Randisi, Robert J., editor,
    Murder… and All That Jazz Buy this book
    New York: Signet, 2004.
    Another tasty collection, courtesy of Robert Randisi, featuring new stories from PWA members and other Edgar-winning authors, including Michael Connelly, Peter Robinson, Robert Ferrigno, Laura Lippman (Tess!), Max Allan Collins (a new eye!), Julie Smith (Talba!), John Lutz, John Harvey, Billy Moody, Ed Gorman, Martin Meyers, and Les Roberts (Milan!).
  • Faherty, Terence, Jonathan Harrington, Betty Webb and Nancy Baker Jacobs,
    Desperate Journeys Buy this book
    Worldwide Library, 2004.
    Paperback collection of four novellas, including two P.I. tales, one featuring Faherty’s Owen Keane and one with Webb’s Lena Jones.
  • Ashley, Mike, editor,
    The Mammoth Book of Roaring Twenties Whodunnits Buy this book
    Carroll & Graf, 2004.
    Period pieces, old and new, from some of crime’s best fictioneers, including Michael Collins (with a new Dan Fortune story), Max Allan Collins, Mat Coward, Peter Lovesy, Robert Randisi, Ed Hoch and Cornell Woolrich.
  • Various editors
    The Akashic Noir Series
    New York: Akashic Books, 2004–
    Ex-punk rocker Johnny Temple’s feisty and defiantly political little imprint struck gold of the blackest hue with this string of regionalized collections of noir. Staerting way back in 2004 with the publication of Brooklyn Noir (edited by Pete Hamill), the series has become a crime fiction juggernaut, spreading its noirish tentacles all over the world, with collections originating from around the globe.
    And while the definition of noir may be stretched to the breaking point at times, there’s no denying how potent and powerful so many of the stories in these collections have proven to be. They’ve been written by writers you’ve never heard of, and writers you know and love, including Ken Bruen, Michael Connelly, Robert Ferrigno, Harry Stephen Keeler, Sherwood Anderson, Max Allan Collins, Richard Wright, Nelson Algren, Fredric Brown, Patricia Highsmith, Barry Gifford, Stuart M. Kaminsky, Libby Fischer Hellmann, Sara Paretsky, Percy Spurlark Parker,.Gary Phillips, Lawrence Block, S.J. Rozan, Steven Torres, Joyce Carol Oates, Loren D. Estleman, P.J. Parrish, Craig Holden, Megan Abbott, James W. Hall, Jim Pascoe, Scott Phillips, Laura Lippman, Reed Farrel Coleman and about a zillion more. At this point, listing them all on this page seems inconsistent with how highly I regard this series — they deserve their own page.
  • Phillips, Gary, and Jervey Tervalon, editors,
    The Cocaine Chronicles Buy this book Buy the audio Kindle it!
    New York: Akashic Books, 2005.
    A nasty rush. The editors cut out a fine line of seventeen coke-fuelled crime tales by Lee Child, Ken Bruen, Laura Lippman, Bill Moody, Nichelle Tramble, Jerry Stahl, James Brown, Gary Phillips, and others that”ll snap your head back. The real thing.
  • Jaye, Jessica, and Richard Brewer, editors,
    Meeting Across the River Buy this book Kindle it!
    Bloomsbury, 2005.
    Tramps like us, baby we were born to write. A often noirish collection of, as the sub-title goes, “Stories Inspired by the Haunting Bruce Springsteen Song.” Contributors include Eddie Muller, Steve Hamilton, David Corbett, Barbara Seranella, William Kent Krueger and Eric Garcia.
  • McBain, Ed, editor
    Transgressions Buy this book
    New York: Forge, 2005.
    A mixed-bag collection of ten novellas (NOT short stories) by some real whiz bang writers, including editor McBain himself (an impressive 87th Precinct tale) , plus Walter Mosley, Joyce Carol Oates, Stephen King, and Anne Perry. Lawrence Block chips in a Keller story, and Donald Westlake unleashes a new Dortmunder yarn. Was also available in a ritzy leather-bound edition.
  • Penzler, Otto, editor,
    Murder Is My Racquet Buy this book
    New York: Mysterious Press, 2005.
    Penzler continues his series of sports-themed crime stories by some of the best crime writers around, including Lawrence Block, John Harvey (with a Jack Kiley story), James W. Hall, Stephen Hunter and even future Texas governor wannabe Kinky Freidman.
  • Randisi, Robert J., editor,
    Greatest Hits: Original Stories of Hitmen, Hired Guns and Private Eyes Buy this book
    New York: Carroll & Graf, 2005.
    Collection of mostly all-new stories, all featuring hitmen (despite the subtitle), from the likes of Lawrence Block (Keller!), Max Allan Collins (Quarry!), Barbara Seranella, Lee Child, Ed Gorman, James W. Hall et al. Sounds good to me…
  • Smith, Anthony Neil, editor
    Plots With Guns: A Noir Anthology Buy this book
    Dennis McMillan Publications, 2005.
    This rock ’em, sock ’em collection of 24 hard-bitten tales, most of them taken from the late, lamented e-zine/web site (this era’s Manhunt) and the rest from “fellow travellers” includes offerings from such heavyweights as Michael Connelly (Harry Bosch’s first case!), Kent Anderson, Victor Gischler, Reed Farrel Coleman, Laura Lippman, Eddie Muller, Gary Phillips, Scott Phillips, Jason Starr and Charlie Stella.
  • Connelly, Michael, editor,
    Murder in Vegas: New Crime Tales of Gambling and Desperation | Buy this book
    Forge Books, 2005.
    A solid collection of tough little, high stakes tales by some of the best and brightest writers in the genre, including Michael Collins, John Wessel, Rick Mofina, S.J. Rozan and Jeremiah Healy.
  • Jakubowski, Maxim, editor,
    Great TV and Film Detectives: A Collection of Crime Masterpieces Featuring Your Favorite Screen Sleuths Buy this book
    (2005, Reader’s Digest)
    An odd but intriguing collection of short stories (from Reader’s Digest, of all places!) that rounds up all the usual expected suspects, plus stories featuring Sherlock Holmes, Mike Hammer, Hercule Poirot, V.I. Warshawski, Benny Cooperman’s mom, Perry Mason, Tommy and Tuppence, Philip Marlowe, Matt Scudder and Nick Sharman.
  • Penzler, Otto, editor,
    Murder at the Racetrack Buy this book
    New York: Mysterious Press, 2006.
    Penzler takes dead aim at the sport of kings with this collection, which sports the long-winded sub-title of “Original Tales of Mystery and Mayhem Down the Final Stretch.” Among those jockeying for position are Max Allan Collins (with a new Nate Heller story),Lawrence Block (Keller), Ken Bruen, Jan Burke, Lorenzo Carcaterra, Joyce Carol Oates and Scott Wolven.
  • Penzler, Otto, editor,
    Murder in the Rough Buy this book | Kindle it!
    New York: Mysterious Press, 2006.
    Yet another sports-themed anthology from the Penzler factory, this one offers “Original Tales of Bad Shots, Terrible Lies, and Other Deadly Handicaps.” Among those playing through this go-round are Ian Rankin, Ken “I hate fuckin’ golf.” Bruen, Jonathan Gash, William G. Tapply, Laura Lippman, Steve Hamilton, Bradford Morrow, John Sandford, Simon Brett and Lawrence Block.
  • Patterson, James, editor,
    Thriller Buy this book
    Mira, 2006.
    First collection from new thriller writer organization features Lee Child’s first Jack Reacher short story, plus stories by David Morrell, Dennis Lynds, John Lescroart, Chris Mooney, James Grippando, Denise Hamilton, J.A. Konrath, Christopher Rice, Gayle Lynds, and others.
  • Swierczynski, Duane, editor,
    Damn Near Dead: An Anthology of Geezer Noir Buy this book
    Busted Flush Press, 2006.
    A collection of murder and mayhem and senior citizens, with an intro by James Crumley and featuring stories by the editorm plus folks like Laura Lippman, Jason Starr, Jeff Abbott and Dave White, who offers a new Jackson Donne story.
  • Randisi, Robert J., editor,
    Hollywood and Crime Buy this book
    Pegasus Books, 2007.
    Fifteen”Original Crime Stories Set During the History of Hollywood,” as the subtitle puts it, by Michael Connelly, Lee Goldberg, Max Allan Collins, Stuart Kaminsky, Dick Lochte (with a new Leo Bloodworth story), Randisi and all the other usual suspects.
  • Hellman, Libby Fischer,editor,
    Chicago Blues Buy this book
    Bleak House Books, 2007.
    Max Allan Collins, Sean Chercover, Michael Black, Sara Paretsky, Stuart Kaminsky, Kris Nelcott, D.C. Brod, Barb D’Amato and others exercise their right to sing the blues, Chicago style. Edited by Georgia Davis‘ creator, Hellman.
  • Abbott, Megan, editor,
    Hell of a Woman: An Anthology of Female Noir Buy this book
    Busted Flush, 2007.
    A collection of new stories by Sara Gran, Vicki Hendricks, Alison Gaylin, Cornelia Read, Naomi Hirahara, Zoë Sharp, Sandra Scoppettone, Charlotte Carter, Lynne Barrett, Annette Meyers, Vin Packer, Libby Fischer Hellman and more, plus a look at several fairly dangerous dames over the years and an intro by Val McDermid, who’s fairly dangerous herself.
  • Penzler, Otto, editor,
    Dead Man’s Hand: Crime Fiction at the Poker Table Buy this book
    Harcourt, 2007.
    Yet another “sports”-themed anthology of short crime fiction from Penzler — if you can call poker a “sport.” Still, there’s no denying that he’s met the ante with stories from the likes of Laura Lippman, Walter Mosley, Peter Robinson, Jeffrey Deaver. Alexander McCall Smith and Michael Connelly.
  • Phillips, Gary, editor,
    Politics Noir: Dark Tales from the Corridors of Power Buy this book
    New York: Verso, 2008.
    The corridors of power, it turns out, are even nastier than Chandler’s fabled mean streets, although this collection frequently makes the case that the two are never far apart. Which makes this book about as in your face as it gets, a no-holds-barred slice of venom aimed at the powers that be and the corruption that is. To be sure, a lot of these dark, nasty stories have nothing to do — theoretically — with the current administration, and editor Phillips attempts a fair and balanced tone in his intro, but the actual stories (including his) make it pretty clear which side of the line most of these writers are coming from — and are all the more powerful for it. Contributors also include Mike Davis, Darrell James, John Shannon, Robert Greer, Twist Phelan, Ken Wishnia, pete Hautman and Sujata Massey. This is primo stuff, angry and pissed off, its bleak cynicism perhaps best summed up by a character in Ken Bruen’s contribution: “Call it politics. I call it shite.”
  • Robinson, Todd, editor,
    Hardcore Hardboiled Buy this book
    Kensington, 2008.
    Duh. I get it. This is supposed to be HARD. The Thuglit boys and some of their pals get hard, presenting some of the best (and hardest) crime stories from some of the best-known writers in the genre — guys like Bruen, Chercover, Gischler, Swierczynski, Stella, McLean, etc. Yeah, in these stories guys cuss up a storm, various implements are shoved into various parts of the body they’re not supposed to go into, and plenty of bodily fluids are let loose. As Otto Penzler points out in his surprisingly mocking intro, you were expecting tea with the vicar? Todd knows hard.
  • Jakubowski , Maxim, editor,
    The Mammoth Book of the World’s Best Crime Stories Buy this book Kindle it!
    Constable & Robinson, 2009.
    An impressive slab of a book, collecting crime stories from all over the world, and boasting some of the world’s greatest crime and mystery authors, including John Mortimer, Ruth Rendell, Howard Engel, Ian Rankin, Boris Akunin, Mark Billingham, Giorgio Faletti, Jo Nesbo and Jeffrey Deaver. There are forty stories here, everything from noir to whodunnits, and the settings include Italy, Cuba, Scandinavia, Russia, USA, Japan, Germany, Mexico, France, Italy, Spain, the UK and Canada. What better way to learn about other countries than by finding out how they bump each other off?
  • Cortez, Sarah, and Liz Martinez, editors
    Hit List: The Best of Latino Mystery Buy this book
    Arte Público Press, 2009.
    A collection of short fiction by Latino mystery writers, supposedly the first such collection ever, with contributions from Carolina Garcia-Aguilera (with a new P.I.), Alicia Gaspar de Alba, Rolando Hinojosa, Steven Torres, A.E. Roman, Manuel Ramos and others.
  • Santlofer, Jonathan, & S.J. Rozan, editors,
    The Dark End of the Street Buy this book Kindle it!
    Bloomsbury USA, 2010.
    The subtitle says it all. “New Stories of Sex and Crime by Today’s Top Authors.” Includes stories by Lawrence Block, Lee Child, Michael Connelly (with a Mickey Haller story), Laura Lippman, Val McDermid, Janice Lee, Francine Prose, etc.
  • Parker, T. Jefferson, ed.,
    Hook, Line and Sinister Buy this book
    Countryman Press, 2010.
    Editor Parker lands 16 original stories from William G. Tapply, Dana Stabenow, John Lescroart, Brian M. Wiprud, Don Winslow, Melodie Johnson howe, Michael Connelly, Ridley Pearson, C.J. Box, and James W. Hall, among others — all guaranteed to ber more fun than cutting bait. Proceeds go to two charitable groups, Casting For Recovery, which helps women cancer survivors to heal body and soul through fly-fishing, and Project Healing Waters, which does the same for our returning veterans.
  • Abbott, Patricia, and Stephen Weddle, editors,
    Discount Noir Kindle it!
    Untreed Reads, October 2010.
    Shopping is murder, and can get even uglier than the shoppers at WalMart at two in the morning. Don’t believe me? Check out these flash fiction tales of MegaMart murder and mayhem by such savvy customers as Patricia Abbott, Ed Gorman, Bill Crider, John McFetridge, James Reasoner, Todd Mason, Sandra Scoppettone, Stephen D. Rogers, Sandra Seamans, Donna Moore, Keith Rawson and Gerald So, among others.
  • Cranmer, David, and Elaine Ash, editors,
    Beat to a Pulp: Round One Buy this book
    Beat to a Pulp, 2010.
    Twenty-seven chunks of pulp, ranging from noir, crime and hardboiled to ghost, western, fantasy and sci-fi. Features stories from Patricia Abbott, Charles Ardai, Ed Gorman, Robert J. Randisi, James Reasoner, and Stephen D. Rogers, plus a foreword by Bill Crider and great cover art by James O’Barr.
  • Crider, Bill, editor,
    Damn Near Dead 2: Live Noir or Die Trying Buy this book
    Busted Flush Press, 2010.
    Edited by Bill Crider and featuring an introduction by Charlaine Harris, this sequel to the first Damn Near Dead collection rounds up even more murder and mayhem, aged to perfection, from some of our most senior — and nastiest — citizens, from Patti Abbott, Ace Atkins, Declan Burke, Christa Faust, Ed Gorman, Gar Anthony Haywood, Joe R. Lansdale, Russel McLean, Denise Mina, Marcia Muller, Gary Phillips, Scott Phillips, Tom Piccirilli, Bill Pronzini, Cornelia Read, James Reasoner, Kat Richardson, S. J. Rozan, Anthony Neil Smith and Don Winslow.
  • Martin, George R.R., & Dozois, Garder, editors,
    Down These Strange Streets Buy this book Kindle it!
    Penguin Publishing, 2011.
    Very strange indeed, it turns out. But this collection of urban fantasy, full of vampires, werewolves, zombies, ghosts and what-not, manages to weave in a good portion of mean streets noir and some honest to goodness private eye tales by such A-list talents as Joe R. Lansdale, Simon R. Green, Patricia Briggs, Laurie R. King, Glen Cook, Steven Saylor, Conn Iggulden and even a corker of a story, possibly the collection’s best, by Bradley Denton that features Dashiell “Pop” Hammett in a major role. A surprisingly solid collection that will appeal to the more open-minded readers of this site, even if fantasy isn’t really their “thing.”
  • Child, Lee, editor,
    Vengeance Buy this book Kindle it!
    Muholland Books, 2012.
    Darker collection than usual from the Mystery Writers of America, focussing, naturally, on tales of revenge. Contributors include Alafair Burke, Michael Connelly, Mike Cooper, Brendan DuBois, Jim Fusilli, Dennis Lehane, Steve Liskow, Twist Phelan, Zoe Sharp, Karin Slaughter and of course editor Child himself.
  • Cranmer, David, & Matthew P. Mayo, editors,
    Beat to a Pulp: Round Two Buy this book
    Beat to a Pulp, 2012.
    Second go-round of essential new pulp tales by Bill Pronzini, Charles Ardai, James Reasoner, Bill Crider, Patricia Abbott, Vin Packer, and more.
  • Meltzer, Brad, The Mystery Box, editor,
    The Mystery Box Buy this book Kindle it!
    Grand Central Publishing, 2013.
    Another solid anthology from MWA, perhaps a little less star-studded than usual, this one features stories revolving around locked boxes, from the literal to the metaphorical. Contributors include Laura Lippman, Joseph Finder and Jan Burke.
  • Randisi, Robert J., editor,
    Crime Square Buy this book Kindle it!
    Perfect Crime Books, 2013.
    The usual PWA suspects return, in a collection of all-new stories, not all necessarily P.I., but all set in New York’s Times Square, stretching as far back as 1912, and continuing right up until the present. With contributions from Randisi himself, Pernell Hall (featuring Stanley Hastings), Max Allan Collins (Damon Runyon), John Lutz, Gary Phillips, Michael Bracken, Reed Farrel Coleman, Ira Berkowitz (Jackson Steeg), Robert S. Levinson, Martin Meyers (Patrick Hardy), Warren Murphy and others.
  • Penzler, Otto, editor,
    Kwik Crimes | Buy this book Buy the audiobook Kindle it!
    Thomas & Mercer, 2013.
    A shotgun blast of short shorts, each clicking in at 1000 words or less, by some of the best crime authors around. Witty, perverse, nasty or fun, these stories hit their mark. Among those pulling the trigger: Pat Abbott, Richard Aleas, Charles Ardai, Ken Bruen, Loren Estleman, David Corbett, Bill Crider, Joe Clifford, Eric Beetner, Ray Benson, Sean Doolittle, Stephen D. Rogers, Adrian McKinty, Joe R. Lansdale, Jonothan King, David Housewright, Jeremiah Healy, Gar Anthony Haywood, Parnell Hall, James Grady, , Ed Gortman, Ron Goulart, Jim Fusilli Christa Faust, Chuck Hogan and more.
  • Baldacci, David, editor,
    FaceOff Buy this book Buy the audiobook Kindle it!
    Simon & Schuster, 2014.
    This star-spangled collection might be the first time anyone’s attempted rounding up a whole book of short stories pairing various popular series characters by various popular thriller writers. I haven’t even read it yet, but a few of the stories definitely sound like stories P.I. fans should be investigating: Harry Bosch and Patrick Kenzie? Heather Graham’s Michael Quinn and Repairman Jack? Nick Heller and Jack Reacher? Sign me up.
  • Penzler, Otto, editor,
    The Black Lizard Big Book of Locked-Room Mysteries Buy this book Kindle it!
    Vintage Crime/Blasck Lizard Originals, 2014.
    A treasure trove of stories sure to delight any puzzle fiend you know, this hefty collection (from the House of Otto) features locked room murders and other impossible crimes from all over the genre (including a few nifty P.I. tales), from short-shorts to novellas, from the ancient past to some of today’s hottest writers, and as usual, Otto does a bang-up job in the intros. Contributors include Edgar Allan Poe, Stephen King, Lawrence Block, Agatha Christie, Georges Simenon, Dorothy L. Sayers, P. G. Wodehouse, Erle Stanley Gardner and Dashiell Hammett.
  • Clark, Mary Higgins, editor,
    Manhattan Mayhem Buy this book Buy the audio Kindle it!
    Quirk Books, 2015.
    Go on, bite the Big Apple. In this MWA anthology, this town’s full of money grabbers. Alsothugs, muggers, kidnappers, grifters, thieves, psychopaths and of course killers. Contributors include Clark, Lee Child (Jack Reacher), S.J. Rozan (Chin Yong-Yun), Jon L. Breen, T. Jefferson Parker and Jeffrey Deaver.
  • McAleer, Andrew, & Paul D. Marks, editors,
    Coast to Coast: Murder from Sea to Shining Sea Buy the book Kindle it!
    Down & Out Books, 2015.
    A grab bag of old and new stories, from Bill Pronzini, Judy Copek, William Link, Robert S. Levinson, Sheila Lowe, William G. Tapply, James T. Shannon, Stephen D. Rogers, and both of the editors. includes the Shamus-nominated “The Dead Detective” by Robert S. Levinson.
  • Block, Lawrence, editor,
    In Sunshine or in Shadow Buy this book Buy the audio Kindle it!
    Pegasus Books, 2016.
    One of the hinkiest themed anthologies 2016 has to be this collection of often noirish short stories inspired by the moody, broody paintings of American painter Edward “Nighthawks” Hopper. Contributors include Stephen King, Joe Lansdale, Joyce Carol Oates, Michael Connolly, Lee Child, Megan Abbott, Craig Ferguson and Block himself, and each story is kicked off by a full-colour repro of the painting that inspired it. ” There’s not a bad story in the bunch,” says Thomas Pluck.
  • Penzler, Otto, editor,
    Bibliomysteries  | Buy this book
    Pegasus Crime, 2017.
    Original stories of murder and mayhem in the world of books, by Ian Rankin, Thomas Perry, Joyce Carol Oates, Megan Abbott, F. Paul Wilson, James W. Hall and more.
  • Phillips, Gary, & Robert J. Randisi, editors,
    44 Caliber Funk: “Tales of Crime, Soul & Payback Buy this book Kindle it!
    This hot, steaming mess of crime-fried funk, edited by PWA Main Men Phillips and Randisi, includes P.I. joints by Dick Lochte, Bill Crider, Jerry Kennealy and Randisi himself. Other contributors include John Shepphird and Elaine Viets.
  • DiBiase, Diane, editor,
    Bound by Mystery: Celebrating 20 Years of Poisoned Pen Press Buy this book Kindle it!
    Arizina, Poisoned Pen Press, 2017.
    Anthology celebrating 20 years of the Scottsdale, Arizona based Poisoned Pen Press. Contributors — all PPP alumni — include James Sallis (“Sunday Drive”!), Kerry Greenwood (Miss Fisher!), Mark de Castrique (Sam Blackman!) and Laurie R. King (Mary Russell visits Scottsdale!).
  • Penzler, Otto, editor,
    Bibliomysteries, Volume Two | Buy this book
    Pegasus Crime, 2018.
    More original stories of murder and mayhem in the world of books, by Ian Rankin, Thomas Perry, Joyce Carol Oates, Megan Abbott, F. Paul Wilson, James W. Hall and more.
  • Penzler, Otto, editor,
    The Big Book of Female Detectives Buy this book | Kindle it!
    Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, 2018.
    Penzler’s annual slab of resurrected treasures boasts classic (and not-so-classic) reprints from Anna Katharine Green, Mary Roberts Rinehart, Agatha Christie, Baroness Orczy and Edgar Wallace to Sue Grafton, Sara Paretsky, Linda Barnes and Laura Lippman.
  • Penzler, Otto, editor,
    The Big Book of Reel Murders Buy this book Kindle it!
    Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, 2019.
    A big ass collection of the short stories and novellas that inspired some great — and not-so-great — movies, from the likes of Arthur Conan Doyle, Raoul Whitfield, Agatha Christie, Dashiell Hammett, Cornell Woolrich, Dennis Lehane, Edgar Allan Poe, Charlotte Armstrong and Ian Fleming.
  • McAleer, Andrew, & Paul D. Marks, editors,
    Coast to Coast Noir: From Sea to Shining Sea | Buy this book Kindle it!
    Down & Out Books, 2020.
    Another solid collection, featuring noir-spalattered fiction from Colleen Collins, Brendan DuBois, Alison Gaylin, Andrew McAleer, Michael Mallory, Paul D. Marks, Dennis Palumbo, Stephen D. Rogers, John Shepphird, Beth Terrell and Dave Zeltserman.
  • Kinmman, Gay Toltl, & Andrew McAleer, editors,
    Edgar & Shamus Go Golden Buy this book Kindle it!
    Down & Out Book, 2022.
    There’s a lot of squawk about mystery’s “Golden Age,’ and a lot of praise for Christie, Crofts, Sayers, Van Dine and all those muckety-mucks in the introduction, but this collection of stories, all set in the so-called Golden Age era  by assorted Edgar and Shamus winners actually leans heavily towards the harder-boiled end of the street (Hammett, Chandler et all could legitimately be considered “Golden Age” writers as well), with contributions by assorted P.I. writers, including P.J. Parrish, John Floyd, Kristen Lepionka, Brendan DuBois, Lori Armstrong, Carolina Garcia-Aguilera and O’Neil De Noux, the last three all receiving Shamus noms for their stories included here.


List respectfully compiled by Kevin Burton Smith.


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