I’ve been a fan of the “Mammoth Book” series for years. This volume from 2007 features many enjoyable stories. My favorites are Ed Hoch’s “The Problem of the Black Cloister” and “A Shower of Daggers.” I’m an admirer of underrated writer Arthur Porges and his “No Killer Has Wings” shows why he should be better known. I also liked Peter Tremanyne’s “The Stuart Sapphire.” Bill Pronzini provides his usual high quality story-telling in “Proof of Guilt.” If you’re in the mood for an impossible crime or a perfect mystery, here are 30 stories to delight you. GRADE: A


Copyright & Acknowledgements –vii

Perfectly impossible / Mike Ashley — 1
An almost perfect crime / William F. Smith — 3
The X Street murders / Joseph Commings — 25
Locked in death / Mary Reed & Eric Mayer — 43
Wingless Pegasus / Gillian Linscott — 63
Duel of shadows / Vincent Cornier — 79
The 45 steps / Peter Crowther — 96
Contrary to the evidence / Douglas Newton — 128
The impossible footprint / William Brittain — 142
Three blind rats / Laird Long — 155
Death and the rope trick / John Basye Price — 172
The problem of the black cloister / Edward D. Hoch — 188
A shower of daggers / Edward D. Hoch — 204
The hook / Robert Randisi — 223
The mystery of the Sevenoaks Tunnel / Max Rittenberg — 240
The red ring / William Le Queux — 254
Observable justice / Will Murray — 267
On the rocks / J.A. Konrath — 298
Eternally yours / H. Edward Hunsburger — 310
Murder in monkeyland / Lois Gresh & Robert Weinberg — 327
No killer has wings / Arthur Porges — 342
Benning’s School for Boys / Richard A. Lupoff — 355
The episode of the nail and the requiem / C. Daly King — 378
The impossible murder of Dr. Satanus / William Krohn — 398
The Stuart sapphire / Peter Tremayne — 413
The flung-back lid / Peter Godfrey — 434
The poisoned bowl / Forrest Rosaire — 452
Proof of guilt / Bill Pronzini — 486
Slaughterhouse / Barry Longyear — 496
The birdman of Tonypandy / Bernard Knight — 511


    1. george Post author

      Patti, I have over a dozen of these “Mammoth Book” anthologies. Fun reading if you’re willing to accept some “filler” stories.

  1. Michael Padgett

    Since I don’t like reading e-books or audio books, these things just aren’t for me. I bought one years ago, “Big Book of the Pulps”, and just couldn’t handle it–too big and bulky and cumbersome. Also don’t like sitting at a table to read. Picky, picky, picky, right? That’s me. It does look interesting though.

      1. george Post author

        Rick, I agree with you and Michael. Yes, THE BIG BOOK OF PULPS was terrific, but Michael is right about its unwieldy size.

    1. george Post author

      Michael, the paperback version of THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF PERFECT CRIMES AND IMPOSSIBLE MYSTERIES can be held comfortably. You would enjoy this book!

      1. Todd Mason

        The MAMMOTH BOOKs put out by Robinson in the UK and, formerly, the folded Carroll & Graf in the US were all fat but relatively little productions, often running to 500 pages or so but light and in dimensions not too much larger than a digest-sized magazine. And both publishers liked using thin, light paper. No one ever broke their arms picking up a single MAMMOTH BOOK of anything…

        Yesterday was Ashley’s 72nd birthday. How the years accumulate.

        One thing that didn’t help Porges’s reputation much was the number of rote “problem” stories he published in sf even more than in mystery…dumb aliens, usually, foiled by some basic physics-based trick on the part of a captured or threatened human space-traveler…and somewhat similarly notional shorts in crime fiction. However, some of his genuinely clever, or at very least clever-enough, stories, such as the fantasy “$1.98” were thrown into shadow by the mountain of easy gimmick filler. Kind of the Randall Garrett track, only at shorter lengths, usually (Christopher Anvil also blighted his career a bit with similar five-finger exercises in sf…if Campbell wasn’t buying them this week, someone else would…so let’s keep grinding them out!).

      2. george Post author

        Todd, I heard that “five-finger exercise” rationale for a lot of writers. They have to eat, too, so grinding out stories that editors will buy makes marketing sense if not artistic sense.

    1. george Post author

      neeru, THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF PERFECT CRIMES AND IMPOSSIBLE MYSTERIES is terrific (if can cope with a few clunkers). Used copies are available online at reasonable prices and I’m sure your local Library could acquire it for you.

  2. Jeff Meyerson

    This one first came out in 2011 and I am pretty sure (my memory being what it is these days) I must have read it. But, as I am not positive, and as the Kindle edition is available for $1.99, I might just buy it and read it again. After all, I probably wouldn’t remember the stories anyway!

    Favorite authors in this group: Hoch of course, also Pronzini and Commings and Cornier

      1. george Post author

        Jeff, I’m guessing most publishers today would not be interested in reprinting THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF PERFECT CRIMES AND IMPOSSIBLE MYSTERIES.

    1. george Post author

      Rick, I go through stages of reading a series of novels and then switching to reading a series of short stories. I’m reading novels right now.

      1. george Post author

        Rick, GRANT took us a couple of months to listen to with the unabridged audio book version (38 CDs!). I have three short story collections beckoning me, but I’m going to read a couple of novels, a couple of non-fiction books, and listen to two audio books first.

  3. Todd Mason

    OK! Putting a link in is triggering your blog’s Warning Beacon, apparently. Check TomCat’s entry this week for Arthur Porges appreciation and re-appraisal!


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