by Bill Pronzini, Editor, Avon Books, 1977, mass market paperback short story collection
The 14th entry in a series of Friday Forgotten Books.
I’m not sure how “forgotten” this one is, nor do I know how widely known it is, or was back when it was published thirty-two years ago. I have to assume, with Bill Pronzini’s name on it, that it’s never slipped too far under the radar. Here, he is the editor, and is the author of just one of the stories here.
Some of these stories are mysteries but many are not, it’s a mixed bag. The common theme isn’t genre, it’s trains. I should mention right off that this book is out of print, but I suggest you put it on your list of things to look for the next time you visit a used book shop.
The collection contains 19 stories arranged chronologically into three periods: 1870-1925 (6 stories), 1930-1950 (7 stories), 1951-today and tomorrow (6 stories).
The first story, “The Signal-Man” is by Charles Dickens and the next five are by John Lutz, Mark Twain, Edith Wharton, Edward Hoch and Alfred Noyes. Included in the second section are stories by James M. Cain, Cornell Woolrich, August Derleth and Ellery Queen. The final section contains stories by Charles Baumont, Robert Bloch, Georges Simenon, Bill Pronzini and Barry N. Malzsberg. That’s a heck of a lineup! There’s nice variety here, excellent authors, interesting writing, and every one related in some way to trains. I happen to like trains, so this was especially appealing to me. And just to add a little frosting, there’s also a very useful bibliography of train literature and films.