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A Century of Mystery: 1980-1989, edited by two major figures in the world of contemporary mysteries--Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini--offers a wonderful cross section of a full decade of writing. The book includes short stories from such luminaries as Lawrence Block ("As Good As a Rest"), Tony Hillerman ("Chee's Witch"), Reginald Hill ("The Worst Crime Known to Man"), and George Higgins ("A Case of Chivas Regal"). But what is especially striking in the volume is the evidence for new developments in the 1980s. Edward Hoch notes in his introduction: "The 1980s were a decade of transition for the mystery and crime story, for readers, writers and publishers. Perhaps nowhere is this more clearly visible than in two specific areas--the resurrection of the private eye novel and the rise of a new generation of women mystery writers." Sara Paretsky's PI, V.I. Warshawski, is emblematic of the shift in the mystery scene, and Paretsky's Warshawski tale, "Skin Deep," is a pleasant addition to the collection, along with works by Julia Smith, Ruth Rendell, Linda Barnes, and the collection editor, Muller. In addition to Hoch's introductory essay--which includes a list of all recipients of the Edgar and Gold Dagger Awards in the decade--each story is accompanied by a short biography of the author featured. --Patrick O'Kelley
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