Only a year after the demise of Edward Hoch's annual mystery anthology for Walker, series editor Otto Penzler kicks off a new annual modeled on Houghton Mifflin's Best American Short Stories, ...Essays, and ...Sports Writing. His inaugural entry, helmed by Parker (Small Vices, p. 90, etc.), runs the gamut from high to low, with sociologically flavored stories by Andrew Klavan (a county prosecutor seduced by Simpson-like headlines) and Allen Steele (a serial killer hits the lecture circuit), with Mabel Maney's nightmarishly bustling domestic idyl sharing top honors for originality, and four reprints from the Penzler-edited Murder for Love (including Michael Malone's Edgar-winning reminiscence "Red Clay") representing business as usual. The low point is Parker's self-important introduction, which sheds no light on the past year in mystery fiction or on the varied batch of stories that follow. More offbeat but less consistent than its established competitor (above). Completists buying both anthologies will duplicate only the two strong stories by S.J. Rozan and Brendan DuBois.