Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Sixteen Skeletons from My Closet edited by Robert Arthur
Dell, 1st printing, 1963
Genre: Horror, suspense, thriller
Synopsis & Review: Another AHP collection, this time of sixteen stories, and with an emphasis on mystery, thrillers, and crime fiction. Perhaps I’m picky, and just don’t like any crime fiction that’s not by Woolrich, Chandler, or Thompson; I don’t know. But this collection did very little for me. It was a bit of a chore to finish.
It’s a much more contemporary collection than Stories My Mother Never Told Me, with no stories from before 1957 or after 1961. So I would hazard a guess that they were all published in contemporary magazines about that time, and that this ought to represent the creme de la creme of thrillers of the day. But it doesn’t. Many of the efforts seem almost amateurish and transparent at best, and hopelessly uninteresting at worst.
“A Man with a Hobby” by Robert Bloch (mis-spelled “Block”here) was well-crafted, though a bit obvious. David Alexander’s “Daddy-O” was completely unexpected, and quite disturbing, while “The Man Who Got Away with It” by Lawrence Treat was pleasantly ironic. I also felt for the protagonist of Richard Deming’s “A Little Sororicide.” And “Secret Recipe” played wonderfully on paranoia and the Tantalus myth. But though I’ve heard good things about Craig Rice (aka Georgiana Ann Randolph Craig), her “The Butler Who Didn’t Do It” did not impress. Henry Kane’s “Ghost Story” was moderately fun to a point, but I didn’t feel he carried it well enough to pull off the wildly improbable ending.
Maybe I’m just too picky. After all, I really don’t read mysteries or thrillers much beyond the authors named above. And the occasional er, Dick Francis.
Read also: AHP Stories My Mother Never Told Me, Darkness at Dawn by Cornell Woolrich
Cover: A much better cartoon than the last, this is Hitchcock Himself, but with a skeletal body, sitting and reading in an empty closet. I don’t mind the large text this time, as it’s balanced, and in complementary shades of goldenrod and red.
Perhaps a rolling pin; a jungle knife brought back from the Amazon country years ago by the original owner who had traveled with Theodore Roosevelt; a dose of poison in the soup; a thin but strong cord across the top of the staircase… I can promise you a shudderingly good time in the pages to come.
5 October – 7 October