THE BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES 2017  by John Sandford

THE BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES 2017

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Sandford, creator of the action-packed Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers franchises, reprints 20 tales of murder and mayhem in the latest entry of this Penzler-curated series.

Although he would like to engage in “an intellectual tour of the history or theory of short-story writing,” what Sandford really has on offer is a highly masculinized exploration of fairly recent concerns. Fifteen of these stories are by white men, the remainder by white women. Their themes include pursuit and intrusion. A hit man stalks his prey in Gerri Brightwell’s “Williamsville.” A driver pursues a motorcyclist in Wallace Stroby’s “Night Run.” An olfactorily-challenged serial killer seeks his next victim in Peter Straub’s “The Process Is a Process All Its Own.” Men also defend what they see as theirs. An injured boxer looks for the lucky shot that will keep a Mexican upstart from making inroads against his Irish family’s franchise in Doug Allyn’s “Puncher’s Chance.” A pot grower finds a way to keep poachers off his land in Dan Bevacqua’s “The Human Variable.” A rural farmer defends his pregnant wife against intruders in C.J. Box’s “Power Wagon.” And Jim Allyn combines flight and intrusion in “The Master of Negwegon,” a tale of military buddies who team up to catch the fourth member of their crew who’s killed a teenager for despoiling his pristine forest. Readers will find the occasional relationship story. A mobbed-up transplant to California forms an unlikely friendship with an elderly Italian horse-whisperer in Steven Popkes’ “The Sweet Warm Earth.” Joyce Carol Oates offers a tale of love gone wrong in “The Woman in the Window.” And relationships can grow out of intrusion, as the protagonist of K. McGee’s “Dot Rat” discovers.

With its narrow take on what it means to be American, Sandford’s collection seems determined to make the genre great again.

Pub Date: Oct. 3rd, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-544-94908-9
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2017




Kirkus Interview
John Sandford
author of SATURN RUN
October 6, 2015

Saturn Run, John Sandford’s new novel, is quite a departure for the bestselling thriller writer, who sets aside his Lucas Davenport crime franchise (Gathering Prey, 2015, etc.) and partners with photographer and sci-fi buff Ctein to leave Earth’s gravitational field for the rings of Saturn. The year is 2066. A Caltech intern inadvertently notices an anomaly from a space telescope—something is approaching Saturn, and decelerating. Space objects don’t decelerate; spaceships do. A flurry of top-level government meetings produces the inescapable conclusion: whatever built that ship is at least 100 years ahead in hard and soft technology, and whoever can get their hands on it exclusively and bring it back will have an advantage so large, no other nation can compete. A conclusion the Chinese definitely agree with when they find out. The race is on. “James Bond meets Tom Swift, with the last word reserved not for extraterrestrial encounters but for international piracy, state secrets, and a spot of satisfyingly underhanded political pressure,” our reviewer writes. View video >

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