Synopses & Reviews
The Best American Series®
First, Best, and Best-Selling
The Best American series is the premier annual showcase for the countrys finest short fiction and nonfiction. Each volumes series editor selects notable works from hundreds of magazines, journals, and websites. A special guest editor, a leading writer in the field, then chooses the best twenty or so pieces to publish. This unique system has made the Best American series the most respected—and most popular—of its kind.
The Best American Mystery Stories 2011 includes
Lawrence Block, Brendan DuBois, Loren D. Estleman,
Beth Ann Fennelly and Tom Franklin, Ed Gorman, Richard Lange, S. J. Rozan,
Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins, and others
"Twenty stories remarkable in their diversity comprise this 17th installment of Penzler's annual anthology of the best American mystery stories. The plots and settings are more varied than a reader might expect, but what surprises is how literary many of these stories are, like the opening entry, 'Smothered and Covered,' by Tom Barlow, about a down-and-out guy who sees a young girl just before her mysterious death, an encounter that prompts reflection on the loss of his own daughter. The most literary of the bunch is Randall Silvis's 'The Indian,' about a small-town vendetta between a lowlife and his teenage best friend, though it's much too long. Michael Connelly supplies a terrific Harry Bosch story, 'A Fine Mist of Blood,' which reminds the reader of just how great a character Bosch can be and the author's storytelling prowess. In 'Drifter,' Emily St. John Mandel tells the bizarre but compelling story of a young widow traveling in the wake of her husband's death, from the Arctic Circle to Venice, Italy, where she meets a very mysterious stranger. O'Neil De Noux, a New Orleans writer, offers an intriguing 'AK' ('after Katrina') tale, 'Misprision of Felony,' about an investigation into the murder of a shopkeeper a terrific setting, great prose, and an artful look at the sociology of crime. Hannah Tinti's 'Bullet Number Two' is a noirish story set in the middle of nowhere in the southwest a powerful and shocking narrative. The only element that's missing from the volume is a sense of what this selection says about the state of crime fiction in America. In his foreword, Penzler focuses on the changes that have occurred in the publishing world over the past 17 years, and guest editor Scottoline supplies a breezy, personal introduction, but neither offers much in the way of analysis or insight about the themes of contemporary crime fiction or where it might go in the future. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"This collection is sure to please mystery fans as well as those who enjoy short stories"--Library Journal
"The 20 short stories in the 14th edition of this “best of” series offer a wider variety than some of its predecessors...While this volume contains relatively few household names, the quality certainly doesnt suffer as a result."--Publishers Weekly, STARRED review
"Penzlers foreword...in favor of an eclectic mix of tales that exhibit crime in all its varieties in every corner of the world—and then some."--Kirkus Reviews
Series editor Penzlers preference for trolling literary journals instead of relying on the usual mystery magazines and anthologies pays big dividends.
Not a single one of the 20 reprints here is a dud. Standouts among the stories produced by mystery veterans are James Lee Burkes parable of a prison-camp inmate who refuses to box ("Big Midnight Special"); Chuck Hogans account of the hamburger that will be a condemned convicts last meal ("Two Thousand Volrs"); and Kristine Kathrine Ruschs historical fantasy of a killer whose methodical execution of FBI agents reaches all the way to the top ("G-Men"). But theres excellent, if more formulaic work by Clark Howard, Rob Kantner, Robert McClure and Michael Connelly. "Free Radicals," Alice Munros unexpected riff on a classic Agatha Christie story, tops the literary side, which provides a good deal more variety: Tom Bissells portrait of a modern superhero ("My Interview with the Avenger"); Ron Carlsons tale of a Guatemalan baseball phenom whose fate is fatally linked to his scouts ("Beanball"); M.M.M. Hayess depiction of a crusty old gentlemans unusual strategies for coping with change and death ("Meantime, Quentin Ghlee"); Randy Rohns droll, creepy account of "The Man Who Fell in Love with the Stump of a Tree"; Jonathan Tels story about a trucker whose life is upended by an accusation of rape and murder ("Bola de la Fortuna"); and series favorite Joyce Carol Oates "Dear Husband," the feverish confession of a dying family-killer. N.J. Ayres, Alafair Burke, David Corbett, Nic Pizzolatto, Gary Craig Powell and Vu Tran round out the diverse list.
A choice mix of solid work from mystery specialists and one-shots from authors whod never want to be identified with the genre.
STARRED The Best American Mystery Stories 2009
Edited by Jeffery Deaver. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Mariner, $14 paper (400p) ISBN 978-0-547-23750-3
Like previous anthologies in this Ã¢â‚¬Å“best ofÃ¢â‚¬â? series, the impressive 13th volume favors crime stories over whodunits. As series editor Otto Penzler notes in his foreword, Ã¢â‚¬Å“it has become increasingly difficult to find... a new murder method, or an original way to hide a vital clueÃ¢â‚¬â? (though some may wonder why Deaver passed over Hal WhiteÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s impossible crime puzzler, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Murder at the Fall Festival,Ã¢â‚¬â? listed in the appendix of Ã¢â‚¬Å“Other Distinguished Mystery Stories of 2008Ã¢â‚¬â?). Readers interested in psychology will be more than satisfied by such tales as Joyce Carol OatesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã¢â‚¬Å“Dear Husband,Ã¢â‚¬â? a heartrending first-person account of a mother who slaughtered her children, and Tom BissellÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã¢â‚¬Å“My Interview with the Avenger,Ã¢â‚¬â? about a vigilante superhero. As always, part of the pleasure derives from exposure to writers who have yet to gain the acclaim they deserve, such as Randy Rohn (Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Man Who Fell in Love with the Stump of a TreeÃ¢â‚¬â?) and Jonathan Tel (Ã¢â‚¬Å“Bola de la FortunaÃ¢â‚¬â?). (Oct.)
The excellent 15th edition of this "best of" series, edited by myster maven Otto Penzler, contains 20 winning short stories, many by relative unknowns. Among the standouts are Brendan DuBoiss "Ride-Along," in which a veteran cop and a freelance reporter get involved in a robbery, and Beth Ann Fennelly and Tom Franklins "What His Hands Had Been Waiting For," in which the struggle for survival in the Mississippi Delta during the terrible 1927 flood takes a strange turn. In Ed Gormans memorable "Flying Solo," two old men dying of cancer make the most of their last days. As in previous volumes, its hard to find lighter fare, but S.J. Rozans clever "Chin Yong-Yun Takes a Case" is a beautifully crafted and satisfying tale of amateur detection. Other contributors include such pros as Lawrence Block, Loren D. Estleman, and Mickey Spillane and Max Collins. --STARRED Publishers Weekly "Ranging from homespun to lush and tropical, this years crop of 20 stories offers a variety of tastes and textures. But exotic doesnt always mean compelling. Charles McCarrys "The End of the String," set in Africa, lumbers like an elephant toward a conclusion as momentous as a mouse. "Diamond Alley," Dennis McFaddens quiet tale of small-town teens confronting the murder of a popular classmate, packs a far greater punch. Family stories are equally powerful. In Christopher Merkners chilling "Last Cottage," a young couple tries to outlast a neighbor determined to oust them from their waterfront home. Across cultures, mothers protect. In Richard Langes "Baby Killer," Blanca struggles with an acting-out granddaughter. And although embarrassed by her profession, a Chinese mother helps her detective daughter in S.J. Rozans "Chin Yong-Yun Takes a Case." An absentee fathers return challenges a wife whos moved on in Joe R. Lansdales "The Stars Are Falling." But Chris F. Holm shows in "The Hitter" that sometimes the greatest threat is to the dads themselves. Families dont always grow through birth or marriage, as Beth Ann Fennelly and Tom Franklin reveal in "What His Hands Had Been Waiting For." And of course, some families are just plain toxic, as Lawrence Blocks "Clean Slate" and Loren D. Estlemans "Sometimes a Hyena" aptly demonstrate. But nasty behavior isnt just a family affair. Eric Barnes shows teenagers wreaking havoc for no particular reason in his slow-moving "Something Pretty, Something Beautiful." And in "A Long Time Dead," Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins show that evil can turn up where its least expected. It has its highs and lows, but the best of Cobens Best is really first-rate." —Kirkus
A collection of the best mystery writing published in 2012 culled from a variety of sources.
A best-selling novelist and Edgar Award winner, Lisa Scottoline brings her mastery of the thriller genre as well as her wit and heart to this collection of the must-reads in mysteries.
Best-selling novelist Lee Child edits this latest collection of the genres finest from the past year. Featuring gritty tales told with panache,” this is a must-read for anybody who cares about crime stories” (Booklist).
About the Author
OTTO PENZLER is a renowned mystery editor, publisher, columnist, and owner of New York's The Mysterious Bookshop, the oldest and largest bookstores solely dedicated to mystery fiction. He has edited more than fifty crime-fiction anthologies.LEE CHILD is the author of thirteen Jack Reacher thrillers, including the New York Times bestsellers Persuader, The Enemy, One Shot, The Hard Way, and #1 bestsellers Bad Luck and Trouble and Nothing to Lose. All his titles have been optioned for major motion pictures.
Table of Contents
Foreword • ix
Introduction • xiii
Smothered and Covered • 1
A Fine Mist of Blood • 14
ONEIL DE NOUX
Misprision of Felony • 29
The Sailor in the Picture • 46
DAVID EDGERLEY GATES
The Devil to Pay • 61
The Street Ends at the Cemetery • 91
Crossing • 126
Remora, IL • 158
Thy Shiny Car in the Night • 172
EMILY ST. JOHN MANDEL
Drifter • 180
The Ring of Kerry • 194
Quarry • 211
JOYCE CAROL OATES
So Near Any Time Always • 225
Light Bulb • 263
Gunpowder Alley • 277
When They Are Done with Us • 300
The Indian • 316
The Dons Cinnamon • 366
Bullet Number Two • 381
MAURINE DALLAS WATKINS
Bound • 392
Contributors Notes • 406
Other Distinguished Mystery Stories of 2012 • 418