THE YEAR'S BEST MYSTERY AND SUSPENSE STORIES 1985 by Edward D.--Ed. Hoch

THE YEAR'S BEST MYSTERY AND SUSPENSE STORIES 1985

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A better-than-average installment in Hoch's mystery-anthology series--featuring mostly grim and disturbing stories, many of them by writers usually associated with more lighthearted approaches to suspense entertainment. The collection's standout, for instance, is Lawrence Block's ""By the Dawn's Early Light"" (the 1984 Edgar winner), in which shamus Matthew Scudder recalls his least successful, most tragic case--a murder-trial investigation that ended in suicide, perjury, and very rough justice. Likewise, witty veterans Reginald Hill and Donald Westlake provide uncharacteristically dark tales: Hill's is a Paul Theroux-ish anecdote involving murderous natives in a colonial setting (as well as a bizarre twist on pukka-sahib sportsmanship); Westlake's is ""After I'm Gone,"" the final episode--more than a little sentimental--for heart-ailing, self-martyring NYPD detective Abe Levine. (The story is best read in Levine, 1984, which includes all the previous Levine exploits.) And, on a less impressive level, there are somber, rustic efforts from farceurs Gregory Mcdonald and Shannon O'Cork. As for the characteristically dark stories, they're an even more uneven group: Clark Howard's ""The Dublin Eye"" (previously published in Ellery Queen's Prime Crimes 2, [Kirkus 1985] p. 20), is a starkly powerful account of revenge and mercy-killing in Belfast; ""Father's Day"" is below-par Ruth Rendell, clumsily heavy on the psychopathology; Bill Pronzini offers a solid outing (in a sad hotel for poor, elderly men) for the Nameless; John Lutz serves up an okay slice of vertigo melodrama; Stephen Greenleaf's ""Iris"" overdoes both the grisliness (baby-stealing psychos) and the artsy prose. And, along with minor entries from Josh Pachter, Peggy Wurtz Fisher, and Michael Z. Lewin (the mildly amusing ""The Reluctant Detective,"" previously seen in Winter's Tales 16), there's the near-inevitable inclusion of a humdrum story by editor Hoch himself. (This one's ""The Vanished Steamboat,"" a derivative mini-puzzle.)

Pub Date: Oct. 21st, 1985
Publisher: Walker