Twenty-one reprints with more than the usual virtues and vices.
Novelist Turow’s brief introduction draws such a persuasive genealogy for both plot-driven stories and epiphanies of theme or character that he makes as strong a case for Karen E. Bender’s portrait of an aging swindler’s last sea voyage and Emory Holmes II’s sketch of a small-time lowlife sweating a police interrogation as he does for more traditionally structured anecdotes like Jane Haddam’s teacher-and-student murder conspiracy and Laura Lippman’s black comedy of two girls looking to score some street-corner diet medication. The variety continues in James Lee Burke’s account of how Bugsy Siegel befriended a pair of Texas yo-yo players, Scott Wolven’s baleful story of a kid coming of age in an Idaho crossfire, Sue Pike’s demented stalker of the soap-opera star she’s convinced has married her and R.T. Smith’s Appalachian version of Rashomon. Long-running fans of the series will find not only the ubiquitous Joyce Carol Oates, who edited last year’s annual, but series editor Otto Penzler’s gravest flaw, his habit of cherry-picking stories from his own anthologies (five this year—by Jeffery Deaver, Andrew Klavan, Elmore Leonard, Walter Mosley and Ed McBain—from Dangerous Women, 2005). “Blame the authors for having written too well,” suggests Penzler, modestly overlooking his own role in picking the finalists from whom Turow selected.
Despite the logrolling, a standout collection with no weak points except familiarity.