This was a Christmas present from my mother (what is it about Christmas that brings out a need for a bit of noir?) and is a particularly good collection of short stories, possibly the best collection I've read for a long time (and I've read some really good ones). In short I'm very enthusiastic about it.
At more length there's a lot to love here. It's a collection of 14 stories from the 1940's through to the mid 1970's, most of them are American with the exception of one British effort, and include contributions from Patricia Highsmith, Shirley Jackson, Vera Caspary, Dorothy B. Hughes, and Elisabeth Sanxay Holding (these are the writers I'd head of or read before and who initially attracted me to the book). The sub title is 'Stories from the trailblazers of domestic suspense' and mostly this means some sort of crime though there are two which break this mould; the utterly charming 'Everybody Needs a Mink' by Dorothy B. Hughes which I read rather more as a sort of Cinderella/wish fulfilment tale. There is also Margaret Miller's 'The People Across the Canyon' which was unsettling but with a super natural element which for me was at odds with the rest of the collection.
There are two long, almost novella length pieces, both of which stand out. Vera Caspary's (her 'Bedelia' is a particular favourite) 'Sugar and Spice' about two cousins - one all sugar the other less so - and their struggles over the same men. It ends murderously but who is responsible? And Elizabeth Sanxay Holding's 'The Stranger in the Car' which charts the sudden disintegration of certainties and security whilst a mother recuperates in hospital.
The one that has most stuck with me is Helen Nielsen's 'Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree' which is absolutely chilling, I keep trying to find a solution for the heroine even now a couple of weeks after reading it, but there are a couple of others which stick in the same way. Nedra Tyre's 'A Nice Place To Stay' written in 1970 feels like it could have been taken from a feature in any of the broadsheets weekend magazines - a woman finds herself with a nice place to stay in for the first time in her life and she's prepared to kill to stay there, it's just not quite the nice place you expect.
Each story comes with a potted biography of it's author and a brief introduction, there's a recommended reading list at the end, and just generally this is an exceptional collection which is absolutely worth seeking out. I can't recommend it highly, or enthusiastically enough.