"This is fabulously funny stuff." — John D. MacDonald "Bill Pronzini surveys the worst crime fiction — not just the average inferior product, but the junk classics, works that achieve a heroic degree of badness. No brief summary can do justice to Mr. Pronzini's researches." — The New York Times Welcome to the very best of the very worst in 20th-century mystery writing. Author Bill Pronzini takes a good-natured look at the genre's "alternative classics" in a retrospective of unintentionally hilarious crime fiction. Populated by the usual private eyes, arch-villains, amateur sleuths, and femmes fatales, these tales offer uniquely amusing reading that's as memorable in its own way as the works of the great mystery writers. In addition to their pure entertainment value, these excerpts and witty appraisals of the "worst" in mystery fiction provide a historical perspective on the development and mores of modern-day crime stories. Featured writers include not only many unsung heroes of pulp fiction but also authors who were popular in their day. Pronzini presents background on the field's subgenres and publishers as well as incisive commentary on the social attitudes reflected by the stories. Advanced and dedicated devotees will appreciate the comprehensive bibliography, which will steer them toward — or away from — these neglected gems.