THE BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES by Jeffrey Deaver

THE BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES

KIRKUS REVIEW

Series editor Penzler’s 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 Burke’s parable of a prison-camp inmate who refuses to box (“Big Midnight Special”); Chuck Hogan’s account of the hamburger that will be a condemned convict’s last meal (“Two Thousand Volrs”); and Kristine Kathrine Rusch’s historical fantasy of a killer whose methodical execution of FBI agents reaches all the way to the top (“G-Men”). But there’s excellent, if more formulaic work by Clark Howard, Rob Kantner, Robert McClure and Michael Connelly. “Free Radicals,” Alice Munro’s unexpected riff on a classic Agatha Christie story, tops the literary side, which provides a good deal more variety: Tom Bissell’s portrait of a modern superhero (“My Interview with the Avenger”); Ron Carlson’s tale of a Guatemalan baseball phenom whose fate is fatally linked to his scout’s (“Beanball”); M.M.M. Hayes’s depiction of a crusty old gentleman’s unusual strategies for coping with change and death (“Meantime, Quentin Ghlee”); Randy Rohn’s droll, creepy account of “The Man Who Fell in Love with the Stump of a Tree”; Jonathan Tel’s 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 who’d never want to be identified with the genre.

Pub Date: Oct. 8th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-547-23750-3
Page count: 400pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2009




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