Review by Booklist Review
Mystery impresario, publisher, editor, and bookshop owner Penzler's annual compilation of the year's best mystery stories was edited this year by Amor Towles, and the book includes some real corkers. Towles' informative introduction covers how the genre evolved in the twentieth century, focusing on the role of the cadaver. Some of the stories in this edition are full of twists, some are tragic, some are just good, old-fashioned, must-read mysteries. It's impossible to choose "the best" from the outstanding selection, but particular standouts include tales from Andrew Child featuring Jack Reacher; Avram Levinsky's story about a fatal promise; Jesse Lewis on the love between a girl and her dog; Edith Wharton's tale of a dangerous sojourn in a foreign desert; and Jeffrey Deaver's gripping story about a young deputy who's up against a deadly adversary in a game of cross/double-cross. Top marks once again to Penzler and his chosen authors, and to guest editor Towles for yet another outstanding annual compilation of mystery stories. This one deserves a place in every mystery collection.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
After a spirited introduction on the history of crime fiction from editor Towles (A Gentleman in Moscow), this wide-ranging anthology kicks off with Doug Allyn's deliciously clever "Blind Baseball." In it, explosives expert Luke Duroy tries to defuse a roadside bomb in Iraq to protect his fellow American soldiers, but he unwittingly interferes with a tontine in the process. Derrick Belanger's "The Adventure of the Misquoted Macbeth" is a smart Sherlock Holmes pastiche centering on a Shakespearean line flub in a strange message delivered to a debt collector; Belanger adds depth to the high-fizz tale by anchoring it in Dr. Watson's tense relationship with his estranged brother. Kerry Hammond successfully evokes the tone and plot twists of golden age mystery fiction in "Strangers at a Table," in which three passengers aboard an Amtrak dining car en route to Denver are invited by a fourth, a Miss Marple devotee, to share the story of "a little mystery" they have personal knowledge of, with shocking results. Across a dizzying number of subgenres, this collection delights by prizing quality over name recognition. There's something here for every mystery fan. (Sept.)
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
Variety is the keynote for these 21 recent reprints and one century-old bonus story. Both editor Towles and series editor Otto Penzler emphasize the central importance of dead bodies in mystery fiction, ignoring the fact that two of the stories they've chosen end with the entire cast still alive. Aaron Philip Clark, Tom Larsen, Michael Mallory, and Ashley Lister choose characters or settings--an undocumented mother helpless to get justice for her son's death, a corrupt Ecuadorian cop, a house cat fitted with a camera that records a murder in progress, a prostitute who shot the trafficker/witness she was hired to entertain--that provide welcome originality, and Lou Manfredo, Annie Reed, Anna Round, and Jessi Lewis showcase elegiac moments that are variously open-ended, the inconclusiveness of the last two especially effective. Most of the remaining stories tick the boxes for established but diverse subgenres. Victor Kreuiter and Joseph S. Walker follow hit men who come out of retirement for one last score. Joslyn Chase's reopening of a cold case is an expertly compressed procedural. Andrew Child's latest Jack Reacher adventure is interesting mainly for its uncertainty about which minor details will provide springboards for action. Jeffery Deaver's cat-and-mouse game between a U.S. marshal and an explosively violent woman is notable for one of Deaver's trademark surprises halfway through. Derrick Belanger pens a deft Sherlock-ian pastiche; Kerry Hammond introduces a darkly witty twist to her homage to Miss Marple; Sean McCluskey salutes the more hard-boiled criminals Parker and Keller in his tale of a no-holds-barred attorney seeking his wealthy client's kidnapped daughter. The best of these traditional stories is Brendan DuBois' predictable but perfectly turned account of a wealthy fugitive who's blackmailed by his gardener. Edith Wharton's 1926 "A Bottle of Perrier" sets a high bar for everything that precedes it. Good thing it comes last. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.