This fine anthology, published in 1987, edited and with an introduction by Ed Gorman, is a top-notch collection of stories.
Contents: “The Used” by Loren Estleman, “A Cold Foggy Day” by Bill Pronzini, “Swamp Search” by Harry Whittington, “Take Care of Yourself” by William Campbell Gault, “A Matter of Ethics” by Robert J. Randisi, “Tough” by John Lutz, “This World, and Then The Fireworks” by Jim Thompson, “Soft Monkey” by Harlan Ellison, “Yellow Gal” by Dennis Lynds, “Scrap” by Max Allan Collins, “Set ‘Em Up Joe” by Barbara Beman, “Shut the Final Door” by Joe L. Hensley, “Death and the Dancing Shadows” by James Reasoner, “Perchance to Dream” by Michael Sideman, “Horn Man” by Wayne Dundee, “The Pit” by Joe R. Lansdale, “Turn Away” by Edward Gorman and “The Second Coming” by Joe Gores
That’s a hell of a line-up, by anyone’s standards! I found a used copy of this about ten years ago after it was strongly recommended by Bill Crider, a member of the mystery group I’m in. The copy I got isn’t perfect; it had gotten damp and is a little swollen, there is even a water spot or two. This is a book that deserves to be in buttery leather with gold trim and a sewn-in bookmark, except that this is a book full of tough characters and fists and bottles and dames and hopelessness and life. Probably too tough for that leather. This is a book that NEEDS TO BE READ, not left on a shelf to be admired.
Gorman starts out with an introduction telling us about the first Gold Medal paperback he bought, at age fourteen. That hooked me, before I even got to the first line of the first story. He concludes the introduction with this: “What you’re about to read, at least from my point of view, is a tribute to all of the Gold Medal writers who taught a whole generation of us not only the tricks of writing but a few tricks about living as well. These are the kind of stories you find in those beautifully packaged and profane old books. I hope you enjoy them.”
If you like good mystery writing, you’ll like this collection – a LOT. So what are you waiting for? Pull it off the shelf, or go find a copy somewhere, and get reading. You’ll be glad you did.