Or American Digest, since editors Gorman and Greenberg (Love Kills, p. 595, etc.), joined by veteran Pronzini (A Wasteland of Strangers, p. 914, etc.), contend that the true high-water mark of short noir fiction was the period from 1950 to 1970, after Black Mask and its ilk had already been killed off by inexpensive paperbacks and TV, and digests like Manhunt and Pursuit reigned supreme. In evidence they offer a monster collection of 35 stories running the gamut from ironic anecdotes (Evan Hunter, Mickey Spillane, Donald E. Westlake, John Lutz, James Reasoner, Frederic Brown, John Jakes) to hard-boiled whodunits (Marcia Muller, Robert J. Randisi, Richard S. Prather, Craig Rice) to substantial novellas (Talmage Powell, Norbert Davis, Leigh Brackett, Richard Matheson). The real revelation is how many of these alleged actioners (like those by Vin Packer, David Goodis, Wade Miller, and Herbert Kastle) work most effectively as mood pieces in the manner of Poe, their great progenitor. A bargain--only $12.95 for 560 pages of the stuff your mother warned you to keep away from. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.