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The Best American Mystery Stories 2003 Paperback – Oct 10 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Oct. 10 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 061832965X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618329656
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14 x 1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 408 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,149,611 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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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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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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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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
14 of 14 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.
13 of 14 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.
5 of 6 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.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
pretty solid Dec 19 2003
By adead_poet@hotmail.com - Published on Amazon.com
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.
THIS IS THE BEST OF 2003??????? WOW!! COULDA FOOLED ME!! Dec 3 2013
By LENNY - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
No, I will NOT recommend this book to anyone!!
At least 50% of the stories were crude and rude.
Quite a few were loaded with lots of over-the-top
sex. I can actually say that NO story got a high
rating from me. DANIEL STASHOWER's story was
pretty good,,,,,the best???? I will donate this to Goodwill.

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