Friday, September 12, 2014

Alfred Hitchcock's A Hangman's Dozen, by various authors

(pb; 1962, 1966: crime anthology)

Overall review:

Excellent murder and crime anthology, worth owning.

Standout stories:

1.)  "The Children of Noah" - Richard Matheson:  A cross-country, speeding motorist (Mr. Ketchum) gets pulled over in Zachry, Maine and finds that leaving this strange town may be more difficult than he first thought.  Fun story, with a Twilight Zone-esque feel.

2.)  "Fair Game" - John Cortez:  Plot-twisty, excellent story about a hunting guide (Sam Ludlow) whose attraction to his client's wife leads to some dark revelations.  I especially love the ending to this one.

3.)  "The Curious Facts Preceding My Execution" - Richard Stark:  A man (Freddie) and his mistress (Karen) plot the demise of his materialistic wife (Janice) and encounter unforeseen complications.  Darkly humorous and increasingly intense tale.

4.)  "Your Witness" - Helen Nielsen:  Fun, well-written story about a woman (Naomi Shawn) whose husband's vicious lawyerly tactics inspire her own revenge on him.

5.)  "Blackout" - Richard Deming:  A drunk man's murder confession turns out to be more complicated than it initially seems.  The ending isn't a surprise, but the story is well-written.

6.)  "The October Game" - Ray Bradbury:  Memorable, nasty (in a dark notions way) and Halloween-atmospheric tale about a man and his family who host a horrifying holiday party.  This is one of my favorite stories in this collection.  The ending is especially effective.

7.)  "The Last Escape" - Jay Street:  An escape artist (Joe Ferlini) has more tricks up his sleeve than anyone - including his wife (Wanda) - suspects.  Great finish to this one.

8.)  "Most Agreeably Poisoned" - Fletcher Flora:  Urbane and "civilized" work about a cuckolded husband who suggests to his wife and her lover a unique port-wine-and-poison solution to resolve their sudden-change situation.

9.)  "The Best-Friend Murder" - Donald E. Westlake:  Police procedural tale about a polite poisoner's immediate confession to the cops, and how his confession rings odd to one of the investigating officers (Abraham Levine).  Great, reader-hooking writing in this work, with palpable, effective themes of youth and mortality.  Love the ending to this one.

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