One of my ongoing interests have to be the short story anthologies presented by Alfred Hitchcock. Go into a decent used bookstore and you'll probably find some. These suckers really thrived in the 60s and 70s and came out in the dozens. Whoever actually assembled these stories had excellent taste. Although Hitch probably didn't play a heavy part in selection, I don't think he would've gone through anything with his name on it unless he gave it a good glance and his thumbs up. Several of these tales became adapted into one TV show or another, including Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Discussing any particular collection wouldn't be helpful because there are too many to choose from and one is as good as another. Instead, I'd like to mention a few writers who showed up in these collections on a fairly regular basis.

Henry Slesar is a national treasure. No lie, no exaggeration. He had roughly 40 stories adapted for Hitchcock Presents, more than any other writer by a long shot. These stories were tightly written with a sense of delightful irony. "Cop for A Day" was my intro to Slesar and my interest in him snowballed. "The Right Price," "The Kind Waitress," and "Party Line" are a few examples of his literary deftness. Unfortunately, the few single author collections by him are out of print and scarce. If anyone who is reading this has any influence: PLEASE REPRINT THIS GUY!!!!

Jonathan Craig, an unsung hero. He made major contribution to crime fiction by publishing some of the first police procedural novels (the 6th Precinct series). He also wrote some excellent crime noir novels (Alley Girl and So Young, So Wicked). To top it off, his short stories are great too. "This Day's Evil" and "Yesterday's Evil" are wonderfully sardonic and grim. His short stories have never been collected. He needs a collection. He also wrote paperback gothics under the moniker Jennifer Hale, including Stormhaven that was infamously covered in Bill Pronzini's Gun in Cheek.

Richard Deming also shows up frequently in Hitchcock collections. Only two of his stories were adapted for AH Presents and no short story collection of his appears in print form. It's a shame. His story "Hit and Run" is a tightly written noir story of a private eye who ends up with a murderess for a client. "The Better Bargain" was adapted for AH Presents with some brutal and clever irony. I've only dipped my toes into his work but I'm enthusiastic to read more.

Jack Ritchie. I discussed this fellow a few months ago. He needs more short story collections. Stories like "Remains to Be Seen" and "For All the Rude People" demonstrate that his talent should be the envy of lesser writers.

There are scores of authors I can mention, but I'll finish with Donald Westlake aka Richard Stark. He has a reputation for having written the Parker novels, which makes him a crime fiction legend. He also wrote some excellent short stories including "One on a Desert Island" and "Journey to Death" which are great fun.

Just to name-drop, the Hitchcock collections are fun to hunt down since you'll find entries by other excellent writers like Talmage Powell, Robert Colby, Robert Bloch, Fletcher Flora, Lawrence Block, Bill Pronzini, Helen Nielsen, Ed McBain, Robert Arthur (who kicked off the classic Three Investors kid series), and many others. It's a plethora of excellence.

Written by Nicholas Montelongo

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