Best American Mystery Stories 2010, ed. Lee Child

Best American Mystery Stories 2010

Edited by Lee Child, Atlantic Books

The fourteenth of these annual collections of short stories first published in the previous calendar year arrived courtesy of the publisher, Corvus (Atlantic). Although I am not usually a consumer of the short-story format, I had just read a novel that upset me so much that I needed an antidote before embarking on another one, so a few short stories seemed to be just the ticket.

Each year, Otto Penzler reads all the submitted entries (more than 1,000 for this collection) – the rules are explained in his series forward. He makes a shortlist of 50 and a guest editor (this year the ubiquitous Lee Child) makes the final choice of 20. I had read four of the authors in the 2010 book before: Dennis Lehane, Jay Brandon, Kurt Vonnegut and Philip Margolin. All provide well-observed, twisty tales that I enjoyed reading. Margolin’s, in particular, manages to be both funny and sharp. Of the authors new to me, I liked the entries by Doug Allyn and Phylis Cohen – but there are plenty of others to attract your interest, ranging across place and time.

I am never sure how to review a short story because even a sentence can give away too much of the plot for a short-form piece. However, real-estate brokers, barmen, female vice cops, jewellery thieves and lawyers in the wild west all feature in a well-put-together set of stories.

At the end of the book there is a brief biography of each author, together with a short paragraph about how he or she came to write the story in the collection. I’m not sure for how long many of these will stick in my memory, but dipping in and out of this book was a pleasant experience, and on occasion a haunting one.

One thought on “Best American Mystery Stories 2010, ed. Lee Child

  1. Jose Ignacio said…
    Glad to have you back Maxine, I was missing you. A fine and interesting review as well.

    Reply 06 December 2010 at 21:27

    Margot Kinberg said…
    Maxine – Thanks for this. I agree; it’s wonderful to have you back! This really does look interesting; as ever, you’ve done a terrific review.

    Reply 06 December 2010 at 23:23

    Norm said…
    Maxine, a tempting review as usual. We have all missed your contributions, and it is nice to have you back.

    Reply 06 December 2010 at 23:30

    kdurkin@earthlink.net said…
    Yes, great to have you return to the blogosphere, so we can read your wonderful reviews, publishing updates, lists and ratings of books you’ve read. Thanks so much for doing this, a big boost to the international mystery readership.

    Reply 07 December 2010 at 04:38

    Dave Knadler said…
    I’ll be looking at this one, Maxine. (Long time, no see, by the way).

    Reply 07 December 2010 at 13:45

    Dorte H said…
    Oh dear. I just wanted to say welcome back.

    And I assume it is funny that I write very short fiction but only read it for work purposes. But when I read one, it is a bit like wanting a meal and getting a biscuit.

    Reply 07 December 2010 at 19:51

    kdurkin@earthlink.net said…
    An FYI: Am nearly finished with “Mind’s Eye,” which I am reading due to your suggestion. How smart is Hakan Nesser! Interesting story, excellent dialogue–and, unexpectedly wit. I am laughing out loud every 10 pages or so. He is not the “next Stieg Larssen,” but mystery readers should seek his books on their own merit. Thanks so much.

    Reply 09 December 2010 at 10:45

    kdurkin@earthlink.net said…
    FYI: Have been reading “Mind’s Eye,” by Hakan Nesser, at the recommendation of this website. Brilliant book, eccentric, smart detective, dialogue–even laugh-out-loud wit. Thanks.

    Reply 11 December 2010 at 05:54

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