(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Edward D. Hoch was the most important post-World War II writer of mystery and detective short stories. In recent years, because of the disappearance of many short-story markets—whether pulp magazines such as Black Mask and Dime Detective or slick publications such as Collier’s and American Magazine and their British equivalents—most mystery writers have concentrated on novels. Hoch, however, was a professional short-story writer, with more than 750 stories to his credit. For more than fifteen years his stories appeared in every issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, and it is a rare anthology that does not include at least one of his tales. Within the limits of the short story Hoch was versatile, trying almost every form and approach, but most of his stories emphasize fair-play clueing and detection. Many of his plot elements are innovative, including combining detection with science fiction and fantasy, but he shares with the Golden Age writers of the 1920’s and the 1930’s the belief that the puzzle is the fundamental element of the detective story.