The latest anthology from the Mystery Writers of America serves up 19 murderous new morsels.
Some courses are more impressive in parts than as wholes. Stephanie Matteson’s torpid husband and resentful wife, like the prissy librarian who gets his from Marcia Talley and Elaine Viets’s personal-trainer triangle, could have used another twist or two. Aileen Schumacher makes things awfully easy for her construction-crew vigilante, and the avengers in Brendan DuBois and the late Henry Slesar seem to have read each other’s stories. Tom Savage tacks a chilling conclusion onto an otherwise routine idyll of curdled domesticity. Noreen Ayres, Shelly Costa, and G. Miki Hayden create effective mood pieces in locales more memorable than their malevolence. The long-lost daughter in Charlotte Hinger runs a sweet scam, but you can see the end a mile away. Mat Coward’s clever premise—senior citizens riding along in cop cars looking for their attackers—runs down instead of winding up. Dan Crawford hurls exciting incidents into a hijacking tale that not even cow blood can hold together. But Tracy Knight’s gleeful attack on the talking cure packs a mind-boggling amount of malevolence into a few pages, and Rhys Bowen’s ironic sketch of a Jew struggling to survive in Nazi Germany is perfectly judged. Best of all, Elizabeth Foxwell combines vivid WWI background with a diabolical plot.
No drop-dead entrée, but something worth a nibble on almost every plate that passes.