Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ellery Queen's Double Dozen

This is a collection of short stories by various authors, edited by Ellery Queen and part of his (can you say "his" when there is no real Ellery Queen but instead it's a pseudonym for two people?) series of Mystery Annuals. I'd love to get hold of more of these, sadly I don't think the library has many. Most, if not nearly all, of these stories are forgotten now, but so many of them paint a lovely little picture of what was in at the time. I even kept little notes while reading this so I wouldn't forget my favourite bits, because I'm thinking I need another few labels on the blog to help me find the reading tips I leave for myself. However, I've lost the scrap of paper I was writing on. (Whereupon she takes a break to look for it.) (And doesn't find it.) I'll just ad lib then. Well, there's an L.E. Behney who has three stories set in rural or lower-middle-to-working-class America. They are quite moving and good. I especially liked the first one, about a woman in an abusive relationship who has had enough. There's an interesting one by George Summer Albee about a US agent in Algeria, trying to find a Communist spy. It sorts of precedes the whole current Iraq situation in a way. Disturbing in how it assumes the right for foreign powers to meddle in certain foreign affairs, I thought, but it wasn't my favourite in terms of pure enjoyability. A really clever one was A Paper for Mr. Wurley, by William Farrell, about a young boy who gets caught up in a murder on his way to school and writes about it for his school assignment. Keeps you kind of guessing to the end. There were, in short, many good ones, even though a few were only so-so.

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