FFB: Detective Duos by Pronzini and Muller

Detective Duos edited by Marcia Muller & Bill Pronzini, Oxford University Press, 1997 hardcover. Mystery short story collection.

Detective Duos 1“Fictional characters who work together in one capacity or another to solve a mystery have been a staple of the crime-fiction genre since Edgar Allan Poe wrote the first detective story in the early 1840s.”
            – from the introduction

I found this, as a remainder I think, a few years ago. I was familiar with most but not all of the authors and made a nice discovery or two while reading authors whose other books I’ll pursue.

The list of authors (and characters) is impressive if not original: Poe (Dupin), Conan Doyle (Holmes & Watson), Wodehouse (Snyder & Oakes), Freeman (Thorndyke & Jervis), Christie (Satterthwaite & Quin), Sayers (Wimsey & Bunter), Lockridge (Pam & Jerry North), Stout (Wolfe & Goodwin), Allingham (Campion & Inspector Kenny), Palmer & Rice (Withers & Malone), Fredric Brown (Ed & Am Hunter), Gilbert (Calder & Behrens), Reginald Hill (Dalziel & Pascoe), Hoch (Blue & Charme), Muller (Kelleher & McCone), Pronzini (Carpenter & Quincannon), D’Amato (Figeroa & Bennis) and others.

I’d read about two-thirds of these stories, maybe more, but that didn’t diminish my pleasure in revisiting them. Of the authors or characters new to me, I particularly liked the Withers & Malone story “Once Upon A Train”, the Father Shanley & Sammy Golden story “And Start with a Blonde” by Jack Webb and most of all Michael Gilbert’s “The Road to Damascus” with Mr. Calder and Mr. Behrens. I’ve found a copy of Mr. Calder and Mr. Behrens and, later a nice copy of Game Without Rules, the 1967 collection of stories featuring them.

The quality of the stories here varies depending on the skill of the author in using the short story form. They’re mostly very good, all are interesting. The introductory essay preceding each story gives a good summary of the author’s work as a whole, not just those works which feature the duo in the story. Especially valuable is the long introduction to the book.


About Rick Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
This entry was posted in Books & Reading, Friday Forgotten Books, Mystery. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to FFB: Detective Duos by Pronzini and Muller

  1. This sounds great to me – thanks Richard, will definitely get a copy 🙂

  2. Todd Mason says:

    Between them, it was unlikely that Pronzini and Muller weren’t going to provide fine introductions…and most of the duos you cite are familiar to me, as well, though I’ve barely read Webb’s short fiction and I’d also missed those Gilbert characters in my not yet systematic reading of Gilbert’s work…thanks for the pointer. It’s too easy to have missed Pronzini’s solo and collaborative anthologies at times, given some of the obscure publishers he ended up placing a few of them with, and how lackadaisical the support from the smaller mainline publishers often was for anthologies…

  3. Todd Mason says:

    The spell-checker decided that “them” with an errant space was two rather enigmatic words in context.

  4. macavityabc says:

    I missed this one completely. Sounds like a good one.

  5. I’ve had a copy of DETECTIVE DUOS on my shelf for a couple of decades. Now I want to read it! Nice review!

  6. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Good one. I read this nearly 20 years ago. You cannot go wrong with Michael Gilbert as a rule, and the Calder & Behrens stories are terrific. In fact, all his short stories are worth seeking out.

  7. Jerry House says:

    Haven’t read this one yet. Sounds great! All the authors you listed are worth reading. And Jack Webb (not the Dragnet guy) was one of my favorites back in the day.

    • This is worth seeking, Jerry, and yes, I liked the Webb story.

    • Todd Mason says:

      And I’d assumed it was radio/film/tv Jack Webb…good to know…
      Wikipedia: John Alfred “Jack” Webb (January 13, 1916 – February 12, 2008) was a mystery writer who often featured the detective team of Sammy Golden and Father Joseph Shanley. He should not be confused with Jack Webb (1920–1982), creator and star of Dragnet.

      • Jerry House says:

        And the detective writer Jack Webb also wrote at least two novels (DON’T FEED THE ANIMALS, abridged as THE NAKED FEAR, and THE DEADLY COMBO) under the name “John Farr.”

  8. Definitely an interesting concept

  9. tracybham says:

    I had not heard of this at all. Will be looking for it.

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