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Kudos to series editor Otto Penzler and helpers for compiling a short list of 50 candidates for this sixth annual collection-and to guest editor Ellroy for selecting an impressively strong collection of 20 stories that ought to whet readers' appetites for more works by this lineup. In "High School Sweetheart," Joyce Carol Oates shows how far a brilliant premise can carry a writer. Robert B. Parker offers a fine baseball story, "Harlem Nocturne," about Jackie Robinson's off-field difficulties his rookie season. In "Two-Bagger," Michael Connelly also uses a baseball setting for a skillful tale of divided attentions. And Thomas H. Cook takes the gloves off in a yarn that ferrets out the truth behind a fixed boxing match in "The Fix." Perhaps the rarest gem is Brendan DuBois's "A Family Game," in which a bullying baseball dad gets his comeuppance from another parent. James Grady tells a rousing tale of a championship fight held in Montana-but it's the preliminary bout (and its preliminaries) that make "The Championship of Nowhere" one of the anthology's best entries. Clark Howard's "The Cobalt Blues" features a trio of men with absolutely nothing to lose as they plan a daring and (somewhat) altruistic caper that leaves readers chuckling. Darker tales, but very effective ones, come from established pros like Stuart M. Kaminsky, Annette Meyers and Joe R. Lansdale. This is a sterling collection that should both entertain and serve as an introduction to some formidable new talents. (Oct. 15)
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Series editor Penzler deserves credit for acknowledging in his foreword to this year's installment of the best American mystery stories that several of the selections were written originally for two of his own sports-themed anthologies. He defends their inclusion (volume editor Ellroy made the final choices from a group of 50 stories picked by Penzler) on the grounds of quality, and he's right. Two of the three boxing stories (from Murder on the Ropes), Thomas H. Cook's "The Fix" and James Grady's "The Championship of Nowhere," are among the collection's highlights--stories that use the myth-drenched ring milieu to reflect on the agony of making choices when there are no choices to make. Big names dominate this time (Connelly, Malone, Parker, and Lansdale, among them), and they don't disappoint. In the introduction, Ellroy's typically stylized ruminations on the mystery short story ("Whap--you circumnavigate quicksville") will have fans salivating and leave others scratching their not-quite-hip-enough heads. But he's right, too: these stories pack plenty of whap. Bill Ott
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This anthology of "Mystery" stories is a puzzling mix of genuine mysteries and several other stories that belong to other genres, as other reviewers have pointed out. Read morePublished on Jan. 17 2004 by Joshua V. Schneider
What is Mr. Penzler thinking? This is the second year in a row that he has chosen inferior mystery fiction as the "best". Read morePublished on June 20 2003
I agree with another reviewer that the title should have indicated crime stories rather than mysteries. There was never any mystery about who had done it. Read morePublished on Jan. 27 2003