Friday, September 4, 2015
book reviews by jean baldridge yates, The Best American Mystery Stories 2015 edited by James Patterson
The Best American Mystery Stories, 2015, edited by James Patterson, crackles with excitement, snaps with intrigue, and pops with entertainment.
I rediscovered what makes short stories great when I read this collection of stories by some of the greatest American authors alive today. The stories have all been previously published in various magazines.They were chosen by famed novelist James Patterson, together with Otto Penzler, who is the regular editor of this series.
Short stories, when as well written as these, have the ability to leave the reader breathless. If they are mysteries, as in The Best American Mystery Stories, 2015, the brevity of the short story structure is a perfect frame for fast paced surprise twists and turns. The authors presented in this book are the masters of their trade.
See what you think of the very first story in the collection, "The Snow Angel" by Doug Allyn. I loved his vivid writing and powerful descriptions of a cop dealing with murder in small town where everyone knows each other. I plan to seek out more of his work. "Red Eye", a collaboration between two authors, Michael Connelly and Dennis LeShane, is a really cool tale of a kidnapping. I could not figure out what was going to happen next, and could not stop reading it.
Many of these stores have very satisfying endings. That is one of the things which is wonderful about mysteries. The resolutions are so great! John M. Floyd's story, "Molly's Plan" is a total gas. What a fast-paced, well told tale of a bank robbery. I loved it! Note that it is one of the stories singled out by James Patterson, in his introduction.
Thomas McGuane has an offering called "Motherlode". His powers of description are both phenomenal and funny.His well fleshed out quirky characters are pure McGuane. His story is set in the West, and reeks of craziness, cows and crime amidst the sagebrush.
Joyce Carol Oates, one of the greatest authors around, is represented here as well.Her story "The Home at Craigmillnar" is harsh and wrenching, but the ending conveys powerful vindication.
Some of these stories can move you strongly. This is not just light reading. It is more than that. This anthology is a beautiful thing if you love to read mysteries in short story form. It goes beyond excellent. It is terrific.
There are twenty stories in The Best American Mystery Stories, 2015. There is a section on the contributors at the end which is wonderful as well.
A five star collection for any mystery lover of any age from 18 on up.
Available for pre-order at Amazon.com.