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The Best American Mystery Stories 2003 Paperback – Oct 10 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (Oct. 10 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 061832965X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618329656
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.2 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 408 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,834,086 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Is it possible to publish an anthology of mystery stories without including Joyce Carol Oates? Apparently not, as series editor Otto Penzler says in his foreword to this outstanding compendium: "She has appeared in six of the seven annual volumes.... Nobody makes it into these books based on their fame or popularity, and she is no different. It is about the work, and she simply will not be denied." Oates's "The Skull," a richly mordant, Poe-ish tale of a forensic scientist obsessed with the head bones of a murder victim, might not be the best of the 20 stories, but it's certainly right up there. Other brand names working at their peak include George P. Pelecanos ("The Dead Their Eyes Implore Us") and Scott Phillips ("Sockdolager"), both of whom probe the roots of characters from their respective novels. Writers who deserve to be more famous, like Doug Allyn, O'Neill de Noux and Monica Wood, bring fresh insights to familiar material. By far the oddest entry is Taylor Dilts's "Thug: Signification and the (De) Construction of Self," which manages to combine an essay on deconstruction, complete with footnotes, with an entertaining crime story. As guest editor Connelly says in his introduction, if a novel is an SUV, a short story is a sports car. "I drove seven SUVs before I ever tried a sports car," he admits. "I found the difference amazing." Readers should share that amazement.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

For this annual collection, series editor Penzler first selects what he feels are the best 50 crime stories of the year from the 1,000 to 1,200 possibilities; then the guest editor, Connelly this time around and always a big-name crime writer, chooses from that group the 20 that will appear in the annual volume. High-end literary figures not usually associated with genre fiction often appear--Joyce Carol Oates has turned up in six of the seven volumes--but the mix of well-known and unheralded writers varies from year to year. This year the well-knowns have the floor, with James Crumley, Pete Dexter, Elmore Leonard, Walter Mosley, and George P. Pelecanos all on board and all turning in excellent stories. The highlight, though, goes to Doug Allyn's "The Jukebox King," in which a Detroit bar owner uses the murder of a Mob hit man as a way to parlay himself into the juke racket. This series can be counted on to showcase the best of mainstream crime fiction. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. Anderson on Jan. 1 2004
Format: Paperback
Otto Penzler (owner of the Mysterious Bookshop and THE editor of mystery stories) chose 50 stories and selected writer Michael Connelly to winnow the list to the final 20. The initial Penzler criterion is broad: any story in which a crime, or threat of crime, is central to the plot. The stories are generally from small literary magazines (although the first comes from the popular Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine) and there isn't really a bad writer in it. Moments of humor are rare (excepting The Adventure of the Agitated Actress, in which the actor playing Sherlock Holmes is required to solve a crime). Dashiell Hammett appears (War Can be Murder by Mike Doogan) as a detective. The Confession, by Robert McKee, is a straightforward mystery while in Controlled Burn, by Scott Wolven, the protagonist is destroyed by guilt and all crime is off-stage. Death on Denial is comfortably clever. I particularly liked Joyce Carol Oates' The Skull, about a forensic sculptor in love with his Pygmalion, and After You've Gone (John Payton Cooke) about a suicidal cop and the intervention by a very strange suicide help line. The Jukebox (Doug Allyn) is a lovely piece set in 1960 but feels like Chandler era tale of the mob. Walter Mosely's Lavender feels like an excerp from a novel and is not his best work. Elmore Leonard makes an appearance with When the WOmen Come Out to Dance (it's got a nice twist but you expect that with Leonard). My hands down favorite is The Pickpocket by Christopher Cook, a tale that looks at the loss of honor and the pleasure of a well-honed skill -- tone and content blend beautifully in this Paris based tale.
The stories are generally well written and a few are gems.
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By A Customer on Dec 17 2003
Format: Paperback
This may be the best collection of stories in the short history of the series. Although I found a few duds among the selections, the overall quality of the writing is significantly better than in most previous years. I attribute this improvement to the large number of stories from sources other than the obvious mystery magazines. Indeed, several of this year's stories are taken from literary magazines. The net result is that readers are treated to good writing as well as engaging crime stories. Kudos to series editor Otto Penzler and guest editor Michael Connelly for recognizing that good crime stories can be found in many literary outlets. I hope this is a trend that continues in future editions.
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Format: Paperback
A Mélange of Mysteries
This collection offers a smorgasbord of mystery stories as varied as the diversity of America itself. From "The Jukebox King", set in Detroit in the 60's to "The Adventure of the Agitated Actress", a delightful retake of Sherlock Holmes in London, the anthology offers the best of the year. And, as always, Joyce Carol Oates contributes a compelling, beautifully written and enigmatic short story. Worthwhile reading.
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Format: Paperback
This year's Best American Mystery Stories is a pretty good collection of stories. In fact, most of the stories are pretty good--we've all the usual suspects in this volume. I'll say the best two stories in the collection are by two Christophers, Chambers and Cook. This is a good collection to read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 9 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Nearly Noir but Nice Jan. 1 2004
By A. Anderson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Otto Penzler (owner of the Mysterious Bookshop and THE editor of mystery stories) chose 50 stories and selected writer Michael Connelly to winnow the list to the final 20. The initial Penzler criterion is broad: any story in which a crime, or threat of crime, is central to the plot. The stories are generally from small literary magazines (although the first comes from the popular Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine) and there isn't really a bad writer in it. Moments of humor are rare (excepting The Adventure of the Agitated Actress, in which the actor playing Sherlock Holmes is required to solve a crime). Dashiell Hammett appears (War Can be Murder by Mike Doogan) as a detective. The Confession, by Robert McKee, is a straightforward mystery while in Controlled Burn, by Scott Wolven, the protagonist is destroyed by guilt and all crime is off-stage. Death on Denial is comfortably clever. I particularly liked Joyce Carol Oates' The Skull, about a forensic sculptor in love with his Pygmalion, and After You've Gone (John Payton Cooke) about a suicidal cop and the intervention by a very strange suicide help line. The Jukebox (Doug Allyn) is a lovely piece set in 1960 but feels like Chandler era tale of the mob. Walter Mosely's Lavender feels like an excerp from a novel and is not his best work. Elmore Leonard makes an appearance with When the WOmen Come Out to Dance (it's got a nice twist but you expect that with Leonard). My hands down favorite is The Pickpocket by Christopher Cook, a tale that looks at the loss of honor and the pleasure of a well-honed skill -- tone and content blend beautifully in this Paris based tale.
The stories are generally well written and a few are gems. Connolley's introduction suggests that mysteries reassure, by bringing some sense to an increasingly senseless world. I couldn't find much support for that view in his selections: most of the time, the reader is left with a sad confirmation of what is wrong with us. Many of the stories have the dark view of noir fiction: personal failures in a failed world. I would have liked a slightly broader range of stories, and a couple reach for a mood they can't quite sustain (Sockdolager) or an improbable plot (Richard's Children) but most are satisfying and well said.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
A Melange of Mysteries Oct. 1 2003
By Natalie Harwood - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A Mélange of Mysteries
This collection offers a smorgasbord of mystery stories as varied as the diversity of America itself. From "The Jukebox King", set in Detroit in the 60's to "The Adventure of the Agitated Actress", a delightful retake of Sherlock Holmes in London, the anthology offers the best of the year. And, as always, Joyce Carol Oates contributes a compelling, beautifully written and enigmatic short story. Worthwhile reading.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Kudos to Penzler and Connelly Dec 17 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This may be the best collection of stories in the short history of the series. Although I found a few duds among the selections, the overall quality of the writing is significantly better than in most previous years. I attribute this improvement to the large number of stories from sources other than the obvious mystery magazines. Indeed, several of this year's stories are taken from literary magazines. The net result is that readers are treated to good writing as well as engaging crime stories. Kudos to series editor Otto Penzler and guest editor Michael Connelly for recognizing that good crime stories can be found in many literary outlets. I hope this is a trend that continues in future editions.
Excellent Stories May 28 2015
By Eileen Shaw - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
One of the best contributions to this fascinating series of short stories is that written by Pete Dexter, one of the best writers of the crime genre that I know of. Eisner, the jeweller of the title of this story is wise to his business and the perfection of this nasty but brilliant story involves a kind of insurance that works like clockwork. “Whittemore considered their jewelry, Rolex watches half an inch thick, diamond rings, gold bracelets and neck chains. The one at the bookcase was wearing cuff links. He wondered if it was part of the jewellry business that you have to look like a Gypsy coming out of a hotel window.”

In War Can Be Murder by Mike Noonan, a nifty little black-market trick is played and in Richard’s Children, perhaps the most fanciful story here, set in London, the suggestion is made that Richard the III has a legacy still alive and well in the form of a secret organisation. The story by Joyce Carol Oates The Skull, concerns the reconstruction of a skull after four years in the ground. What the murderer broke, Kyle Cassity is certain to reconstruct. He finds himself talking to the dead woman: “Now you have a friend, dear, Kyle is your friend.” His skills bring to a dead girl back,though forever inanimate, and remind him of another dead girl, lost to time.

I really enjoyed George P. Pelecanos’ contribution, in which revenge is taken in secret on a vile racist. In Lavender, Walter Moseley’s contribution, two young people try to escape a heavy father’s disapproval of his daughter’s choice of a boyfriend.

Almost perfect – a very strong selection of stories. However, I wonder why nearly all of the stories involved shooting denouements. Do the cops never get to put their man in prison these days?
Fair to Good Collection of Suspense Fiction April 16 2015
By Movie Fan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Overall this is a fair to good collection of suspense fiction short stories. As with any collection some stories are stronger than others. I can honestly say there were few which I truly did not like; however there were few which I thought were truly excellent. I like reading short story fiction and will accept that any collection will not only contain stories of non-uniform quality and writing style but also resonant differently with different readers.


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