Nov 28, 2010

Review: The Best American Mystery Stories 2010

With Lee Child as guest editor for The Best American Mystery Stories 2010 you won't find Miss Marple or the Fat Belgian in this collection.  You might, however be forgiven for expecting a little more Mystery than this tome provides.

I found the collection to be more crime fiction than mystery, with two notable exceptions - The Case of Colonel Warburton's Madness, a well done Sherlock Holmes pastiche by Lindsay Faye and Early Christmas by Doug Allyn.

When I think mystery writing, I am chiefly thinking whodunits rather why or how.  The  series editor, Otto Penzler, dispels this misconception of mine in his foreword.  Mystery writing is a broad umbrella and all the stories in the collection fall beneath it-apparenty.

So now that I am clear what Mystery writing entails, what of the collection?  Was I blown away? Well, not initially.  This collection did grow on me though.  I found it to be a balanced collection, a good cross section of the genre.  There's thriller action in Killing Time by John Land, a interesting story of a skilled assassin hiding out as a secondary school English teacher.  Then there's the ever so slightly off putting Dredge by Matt Bell, where our protagonist stores the body of a dead teenager he's found in his freezer.

If I were to select three standouts they would be:

The Shipbreaker by Mike Wiecek - an interesting piece set in the Ship breaking region of Bangladesh.  This was a wonderfully evocative bit a writing for me.  Wiecek captured the atmosphere perfectly.
Animal Rescue by Dennis Lehane -  a story about a local tough guy who saves an abandoned puppy that brings with it a set of human problems that the protagonist seems perfectly suited to solving.  In the end though, the reader is left pondering who is being rescued.

Early Christmas by Doug Allyn - this one really did keep me reading.  A traditional whodunit where you are attempting to think ahead of the writing to figure out the culprit.  A story involving a philandering real estate lawyer, a girl dying of cancer and a hit man in hiding.

I'd recommend the book to fans of crime and thriller fiction.  If you are strictly old fashioned in your Mystery reading tastes, then you might not find the hit you are looking for.  That being said, if you just enjoy reading good fiction, it's here in abundance.


Amazon:  The Best American Mystery Stories 2010 at $10.17  + P&H
Book Depository: Not Available 

Book Depository: The Best American Mystery Stories 2010 at $29.68

Amazon: Kindle  at $9.99

Disclaimer:  This review is based upon an an advanced reading copy ebook provided by Houghton Mifflin
through Netgalley at no cost to myself.


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