THE NIGHT AND THE MUSIC, by Lawrence Block

The Night and the Music
It was at a small bookstore on Third Avenue in New York near Bloomingdale's in 1976 that I first met Matt Scudder for the first time. On the Dell paperback covers of SINS OF THE FATHERS and IN THE MIDST OF DEATH, James M. Cain called Scudder "New York's answer to Ross Macdonald's Lew Archer." The author was Lawrence Block, and I knew this name from an old digest magazine, Manhunt. I bought the two Scudder books at once from the paperback rack and read them at home. TIME TO MURDER AND CREATE came out in 1977 and I bought it at the same bookstore. (I found out later that the published order is different from the written order.)

After that, Block continued wrinting Scudder novels on and off, and the latest one, A DROP OF THE HARD STUFF (Mulholland Books, 2011) is the 17th. He also wrote short stories and vignettes featuring Scudder and won one Edgar and two Schamuses for the Scudder stories. (He also won two other Edgars for the Keller stories.) His two story collections, THE COLLECTED MYSTERY STORIES (Orion, 1999) and ENOUGH ROPE (Morrow, 2002), contain almost all the stories he wrote -- including all the Scudder stories -- up to the published years. Now THE NIGHT AND THE MUSIC (Telemachus Press, 2011) is the first exclusive Scudder story collection, published in print book and in e-book, with 9 stories and 2 vignettes as follows:

"Out the Window, " first published in the September 1977 issue of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine
"A Candle for the Bag Lady," first published in the November 1977 issue of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, and sometimes retitled "Like a Lamb to Slaughter"
"By the Dawn's Early Light," an Edgar and Shamus winner, first published in the August 1984 issue of Playboy, and included in THE EYES HAVE IT (Mysterious, 1984; edited by Robert J. Randisi)
"Batman's Helpers," fist published in JUSTICE FOR HIRE (Mysterious, 1990; edited by Robert J. Randisi)
"The Merciful Angel of Death," a Shamus winner, first published in THE NEW MYSTERY (Dutton, 1993; edited by Jerome Charyn)
"The Night and the Music," first published in a program book for a New York jazz festival
"Looking for David," first published in WHYDUNIT? (Severn House, 1997; dited by Martin Edwards, and reprinted in the February 1998 issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine
"Let's Get Lost," almost simultaneously published in MURDER AMONG FRIENDS (Berkley hc, 2000) and in the September-October 2000 issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine
"A Moment of Wrong Thinking," first published in the April 2002 issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine
"Mick Ballou Looks at the Blank Screen," first published in a 200-limited-edition broadside by Mark Lavendier in 2007
"One Last Night at Grogan's," an original vignette for this collection (2011)

Brian Koppelman, a screenwriter and director as well as Block's friend, writes an introduction. I was nostalgically amazed that 35 years have passed since I first met Scudder.


THE BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES 2011, edited by Harlan Coben and Otto Penzler

Best American Mystery Stories 2011 THE BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES 2011 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt trade, 2011) is the 15th installment in this year's best anthology series. Otto Penzler has been the Series Editor of BAMS since 1997, and Harlan Coben is this year's guest editor. The anthology contains 20 stories as follows:

"Audacious," by Brock Adams, first published in the Summer 2010 issue of Sewanee Review
"Something Pretty, Something Beautiful," by Eric Barnes, first published in the Winter 2010 issue of Prairie Schooner
"Clean Slate," by Lawrence Block, featuring Kit Tolliver of GETTING OFF (Hard Case Crime hc, 2011) fame, first published in WARRIORS (Tor Books; edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois)
"Who Stole My Monkey?," by David Corbett and Luis Alberto Urrea, first published in LONE STAR NOIR (Akashic Books; edited by Bobby Byrd and Johnny Byrd)
"Ride-Along," by Brendan DuBois, first published in the October 2010-January 2011 issue of The Strand Magazine
"Sometimes a Hyena," by Loren D. Estleman, featuring Amos Walker, first published in AMOS WALKER: THE COMPLETE STORY COLLECTION (Tyrus Books)
"What His Hands Had Been Waiting for," by Beth Ann Fennelly and Tom Franklin, first published in DELTA BLUES (Tyrus Books; edited by Carolyn Haines)
"A Crime of Opportunity," by Ernest J. Finney, first published in the Summer 2010 issue of Sewanee Review
"Flying Solo," by Ed Gorman, first published in NOIR 13 (Perfect Crime Books)
"Destiny City," by James Grady, first published in AGENTS OF TREACHERY (Vintage Crime; edited by Otto Penzler)
"The Hitter," by Chris F. Holm, first published in the Summer 2010 issue of Needle
"West of Nowhere," by Harry Hunsicker, first published in the November 2010 issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine
"Baby Killer," by Richard Lange, first published in No.1 issue of Slake, edited by Joe Donnelly and Laurie Ochoa
"The Stars Are Falling," by Joe R. Lansdale, first published in STORIES (Morrow; edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio)
"The End of the String," by Charles McCarry, first published in AGENTS OF TREACHERY (Vintage Crime; edited by Otto Penzler)
"Diamond Alley," by Dennis McFadden, first published in HART'S GROVE (Colgate University Press)
"Last Cottage," by Christopher Merkner, first published in tge Summer 2010 issue of The Cincinnati Review
"Heart Like a Balloon," by Andrew Riconda, first published in Vol. 1, No. 1 issue of Criminal Class Review
"Ching Yong-Yun Takes a Case," by S. J. Rozan, featuring Ching Yong-Yun, Lydia Chin's mother, first published in DAMN NEAR DEAD 2 (Busted Flush Press; edited by Bill Crider)
"A Long Time Dead," by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins, featuring Mike Hammer, first published in the June-September 2010 issue of The Strand Magazine

This is the first time the name of Michelle Slung, Penzler's colleague, was not mentioned. The acknowledgment pages do not indicate the editors and publishers of the anthologies these included stories had first appeared. However, I always admire Penzler's effort and wish him luck on the series.


TO WHAT'S COOL last time?