As the 20th Century was ending, there was a flurry of “Best of the Century” anthologies published just as the 21st Century was dawning. One of the better examples of these anthologies is Jeffery Deaver’s A Century of Great Suspense Stories. Just check out the Table of Contents and you’ll see most of the key suspense writers of the 20th Century are represented in this book. If you’re a fan of suspense fiction, you’ll love this anthology. Copies are available on-line for a pittance. GRADE: A
Introduction / Jeffery Deaver
Gentleman in the lake / Robert Barnard
Life in our time / Robert Bloch
Batman’s helpers / Lawrence Block
Girl who married a monster / Anthony Boucher
Wench is dead / Fredric Brown
Cigarette girl / James M. Cain
Matter of principal / Max Allan Collins
Weekender / Jeffery Deaver
Reasons unknown / Stanley Ellin
Killing Bernstein / Harlan Ellison
Leg man / Erle Stanley Gardner
One of those days, one of those nights / Ed Gorman
Missing: Page thirteen / Anna Katharine Green
Voir Dire / Jeremaih Healy
Chee’s witch/ Tony Hillerman
Interpol: The case of the modern Medusa / Edward D. Hoch
Quitters, Inc. / Stephen King
So young, so fair, so dead / John Lutz
Nor iron bars / John D. MacDonald
Guilt-edged blonde / Ross Macdonald
Red clay / Michael Malone
Poetic justice / Steve Martini
Very merry Christmas / Ed McBain
Among my souvenirs / Sharyn McCrumb
People across the canyon / Margaret Miller
Benny’s space / Marica Muller
Heartbreak house / Sara Paretsky
Stacked deck / Bill Pronzini
Adventure of the dauphin doll / Ellery Queen
Burning end / Ruth Rendell
Carrying concealed / Lisa Scottoline
Little house at Croix-Rousse / Georges Simeonon
Girl behind the hedge / Mickey Spillane
Fourth of July picnic / Rex Stout
Lady Hillary / Janwillem van de Wetering
This is death / Donald E. Westlake

14 thoughts on “FORGOTTEN BOOKS #437: A CENTURY OF GREAT SUSPENSE STORIES Edited by Jeffrey Deaver

  1. Steve Oerkfitz

    Only 1 writer I don’t know. Anna Green, Surprised nothing by Patricia Highsmith but you can’t include everyone. Always loved People Across the Canyon by Millar.

  2. Jeff Meyerson

    I really like that list. I don’t think I’ve read it, but I’ve read a lot of the stories. Actually, looking at it again, it’s possible that I did read it. I’ve always liked Barnard’s stories, and of course Ed Gorman, Pronzini, Fredric Brown, Block, Ellin, Hoch, McBain, Westlake, and many others.

    Good one.

  3. wolf

    I’ve probably also read a large number of these stories – many writers have familiar names.

    But right now I don’t remember any of them – seems I’m really getting old …

  4. Todd Mason

    Of all the similar retrospectives I looked at a few years back for FFB, I felt this one was the weakest, which didn’t surprise me considering Deaver was editing (choosing to run one of his own stories in this context not only somewhat egomaniacal but also bad literary judgment). But there are worse books available, to be sure, and the more obscure writers such as Green and Malone got a brief turn on a stage that did their careers no harm…

    1. Todd Mason

      Yes, it’s particularly surprising that they left Highsmith’s name on the cover when they didn’t actually include a Highsmith story.

      Here’s my key paragraph about the book:
      –The Deaver isn’t a bad anthology, and it would probably take someone of Deaver’s or Lawrence Block’s commercial clout to get such a book published a decade after this one from a major commercial house, but apparently Berkley wasn’t completely behind Deaver on this book, released in that unlucky year 2001…as Otto Penzler noted in his review of the book, Patricia Highsmith’s name is on the cover, with no story in the book, and not a few of the most notable writers of suspense fiction are also absent…while a number of fairly recent stories by best-selling “names” are included…many of these not the stories by their authors I would’ve included (particularly in the cases of Bloch, Block, and Hoch…or “blok” “blok” and “hoke” if you were wondering).


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