It sounded like a good idea at the time: hire married writers Marcia Muller and Bill Prozini to compile 25 short-stories featuring, as the book cover says, “crime-solving twosomes,” and publish them under the title “Detective Duos.”
What results is a mix of the usual suspects (Conan Doyle, Dorothy Sayers, Edgar Allen Poe, Rex Stout), some formerly popular favorites (Frances and Richard Lockridge, Stuart Palmer and Craig Rice) and a smattering of modern writers, including Muller and Prozini.
As in any short-story collection, the reader’s reaction to each story will vary. As I flipped from story to story, a question began nagging me. A previous Prozini collection from Oxford, “Hard-Boiled,” surveyed the genre from the 1920s to today, and brought back into print some stories that haven’t seen the light in some time. The Tony Hillerman-edited collection “The Oxford Book of American Detective Stories,” performed a similar function.
But is there any historic value to this book? None. So, what we are left with is the offer to pay $30 for a collection of 25 short stories, some of which have been seen before in other collection. I will leave it to the reader to decide how much of a bargain it is.