Library Journal Review
Though this is not the first collection drawn from the pages of yesteryear's Black Mask magazine, Edgar Award-winning mystery editor, publisher, and bookstore owner Penzler declares that "it is the biggest and most comprehensive." He's not kidding! Launched by H.L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan in the 1920s, Black Mask would springboard the careers of a handful of writers, raising the level of penny dreadful pulp mysteries to that of literature, while also publishing plenty of quickly hacked-out swill. This gathers the cream produced by legends like Dashiell Hammett (the godfather of hard-boiled detective fiction), Erle Stanley Gardner, Raymond Chandler, Carroll John Daly, Cornell Woolrich, and other aces. There are more than 50 stories in all, including "The Maltese Falcon" (the original serialized version, which differs from the published novel, is reproduced here for the first time since its initial 1929 publication), Chandler's "Try the Girl" (which, ultimately, became Farewell, My Lovely), and Horace McCoy's "Dirty Work." Each author receives a brief bio and the stories sport original artwork-it's a complete education on vintage crime mysteries between two covers. Verdict A hefty hunk of hard-boiled heaven and a noir lover's dream, this will thrill the genre's many fans.-Mike -Rogers, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
Let's put it straight, like a fist in the face: this treasure trove of more than 50 stories and novels offers the best value ever for fans of hard-boiled detective fiction. In the pulp magazine Black Mask (1920-1951), Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler made their bones, with Erle Stanley Gardner and other heavyweights at their heels. As Penzler (Agents of Treachery) notes in his intros to each selection, an amazing number of these writers moved on to movies and TV. Highlights include the complete The Maltese Falcon, the original version from the pulp, unreprinted for 80 years. (Hammett made a couple of thousand changes for the hardcover novel.) The novel Rainbow Diamonds, featuring Raoul Whitfield's Filipino detective Jo Gar, appears in a book for the first time. The iconic story "Sail" by Lester "Doc Savage" Dent shows up in a variant draft, preferred by the author. The only way Penzler can top this one-a bigger book of Black Mask! (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved