This collection of the 13 winners of the Ellery Queens Mystery Magazine international short story contests (held from 1945 to 1956, plus a final one in 1961) is a real mixed bag -- some excellent, some ordinary, some terrible. Only a handful are true mystery stories, but overall, a worthwhile read.1945 A Star For A Warrior by Manly Wade Wellman -- Not an auspicious beginning to this collection.
Very ordinary- certainly not a story I would expect would be a major prize-winner. I guessed the killer immediately. In 1970 (when this collection was first published), it was considered to have stood the test of time. In 2012, it just seems quaint.1946 - The President Of The United States, Detective by H.F.
Heard -- This is NOT a detective story, NOT a mystery, NOT a whodunit, and what is most important, NOT a good story. Its just ludicrous and bizarre sci-fi, good only for a laugh at the authors notions of a futuristic 1977.
I find it incomprehensible that it was ever considered for any award other than perhaps Most Absurd.1947 - Justice Has No Number by Alfredo Segre -- A good story with an unusual setting and detective.1948 - Blessed Are The Meek by Georges Simenon -- Also a good story with an unusual detective.1949 - The Gentleman From Paris by John Dickson Carr -- Now THIS is what I call a prize-winning mystery story.
A classic from a master.1950 - The Enemy by Charlotte Armstrong -- A well-written story, although I found the subject matter extremely unpleasant, and so I did not enjoy reading it at all.1951 - The Cold Winds Of Adesta by Thomas Flanagan -- Not a bad story. Nothing special, though. Hard to believe it was the best of the year.1952 - My Brother Down There by Steve Frazee -- A story that presumably is intended to be suspenseful, but regrettably, peters out at the end with absolutely no payoff at all.
Doesnt seem to belong in a mystery magazine.1953 - Double Image by Roy Vickers -- A true mystery story, very well-written, with an ending that satisfies, even though there is a gigantic plot hole. Keeps the reader guessing.1954 - The Moment Of Decision by Stanley Ellin -- A very worthy winner in the challenge to the reader genre.
I really liked this one.1955 - The Black Kitten by A.H.Z. Carr -- Ugh. The only mystery here is how this vile, putrid horror piece managed to win a prize. It is after all EQs Mystery Magazine, not EQs Schlock Horror Digest.1956 - The Necessity Of His Condition by Avram Davidson -- A fantastic story with a historical setting.
It kind of reminded me of a Twilight Zone-type of ending. Loved it.1961 - One Drop Of Blood by Cornell Woolrich -- An ingenious plot, enjoyable and well-written, but unfortunately, of all the stories in this book, it is the most dated. In 2012, we are all so familiar with the CSI-type forensics that would have this crime solved in minutes.