DAY KEENE “Nothing to Worry About.” Short story. First published in Detective Tales, August 1945. Collected in League of the Grateful Dead and Other Stories (Ramble House, 2010). Reprinted in Best American Noir of the Century, edited by James Ellroy & Otto Penzler (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010).

   There is a long tradition of stories such as this one. It is a prime example of tales in which one half of a married couple plans to kill the other one, but even though the planning is perfect, things do not work out as well as the guilty person had in mind.

   In this one – and far from the very first one in its subgenre – an Assistant State’s Attorney named Sorrell, and someone who should know better but who’s arrogant enough to think he can get away with it, decides to kill his wife, a woman he now hates and who, he is convinced, is holding his career back. But even more, he has another woman in mind already to replace her.

   It doesn’t work out, of course, but in addition to than the well-timed twist in the end, author Day Keene fleshes out the other characters, too, ones that other writers might even have omitted, or at best glossed over. And yet I demur. There’s nothing really new in this one. It’s a good story, but why (I wonder) was it recently selected as one of the “Best American Noir of the Century”?