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The Best American Mystery Stories 2007 [Paperback]

Otto Penzler , Carl Hiaasen

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Book Description

Oct. 10 2007 Best American
The best-selling author Carl Hiaasen takes the reins for the eleventh edition of this series, featuring twenty of the past year’s most distinguished tales of mystery, crime, and suspense.

Laura Lippman introduces us to a suburban soccer mom who moonlights as a call girl and who has a fateful encounter with a former client at her son’s soccer game. Ridley Pearson traces a famous author of horror tales who becomes trapped in a real one after his wife vanishes while jogging. Joyce Carol Oates travels to a New Jersey racetrack where the animals that break down are of the two-legged type. Lawrence Block tells the story of Keller, a hitman for hire who happens to live in Greenwich Village, loves spicy food, and collects stamps as a hobby. And Scott Wolven plunges us into the world of an ex-con who takes a job at a private and very illegal Nevada racetrack where each day millions are won and lost. Mostly lost.

As Carl Hiaasen notes in his introduction, “The stories in this collection would do honor to any anthology of short literature. More than transcending the genre of crime, they blow away its nebulous boundaries.” The Best American Mystery Stories 2007 is a powerful collection certain to delight mystery aficionados and all lovers of great fiction.

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From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The 11th volume in this consistently high-quality series features such household names as Joyce Carol Oates and Lawrence Block, but for the most part it's the lesser lights who shine brightest with superb short crime stories that evoke human passions and bring characters to life with a few well-chosen phrases or images. As series editor Otto Penzler again cautions in his foreword, few of the stories revolve on whodunit, the why having become more important in contemporary crime fiction. One of the best of the 20 selections is Chris Adrian's Stab, a chilling tale of childish cruelty, as witnessed by an autistic child. Block himself weighs in with the masterful Keller's Double Dribble, a story of double crosses, white-collar crime and basketball. Another standout is Brent Spencer's The True History, a gripping account of brutality and revenge set during the Texas War of Independence. Cozy and Agatha Christie fans won't find much to suit their particular tastes, but lovers of good writing should be delighted. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Otto Penzler is a renowned mystery editor, publisher, columnist, and owner of New York's The Mysterious Bookshop, the oldest and largest bookstores solely dedicated to mystery fiction. He  has edited more than fifty crime-fiction anthologies.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great original and new dark crime stories Oct. 27 2007
By Avid Reader - Published on Amazon.com
if you love cozies, then don't buy this book. get a cup of hot milk and an miss marple and leave now. fleeee! because this is a dark book. but it's a FABULOUS collection if you love dark noir, crime writing by the best of the best, including:

STAB by Chris Adrian! This is my personal favorite -- the smartest most evocative piece I have ever seen from a child's pov. His story, john dufresne's and scott wolven's are disturbing and fresh crime stories from the dark side of humanity and shouldn't be missed! sophistocated readers will also take satisfaction in the entire collection, especially stories by the usual suspects: joyce carol oates, ridley pearson, laura lippman at her darkest. Fresh, original, dark writing here. Transportive stuff -- so transportive that the suspense might just keep you up at night, either that or the excellent caliber of writing!
5.0 out of 5 stars Character driven crime stories May 5 2011
By Neal C. Reynolds - Published on Amazon.com
Short stories classified as mysteries are totally different than they were back in the 40's. These are not whodunnits, PI adventures, or cop stories. But they are insightful stories mostly from the point of view of criminals. I found each of these well worth reading, but they are inclined to be literary and not thrillers or traditional suspense. Few depend on twist endings. The very best one in the book, in my opinion, was William Gay's "Where Will You Go When Your Skin Cannot Contain You?" The Jeepster is indeed the most unforgettable character you'll find in this collection.Other excellant stories include:Kent Myers "Rodney Valen's Second Life" which starts as a rather tongue-in-cheek narrative which slowly turns weird and insightful into the mind of a 2nd generation poacher.Louise Erdrich's "Gleason", an O'Henry type story of a rich philandering husband who, with his paramour's brother, arranges for his wife's kidnapping so that he can give her sufficient money to support his child by her.Brent Spencer's historical "The True History" set in Texas during the battle with Santa Anna's troops.Lawrence Block's "Keller's Double Dribble", one of a series of stories of a likeable hit man.Peter Blanner's "Going, Going, Gone" which while possibly not truly belonging in this collection is a wrenching story which will especially touch father's and portrays a father's, or indeed parent's, worst nightmare.I could go on and give reasons for liking each of the other stories, but will leave it to those who choose to read this anthology to discover their own favorites.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More crime that mystery, with some real winners Jan. 8 2009
By T. Burket - Published on Amazon.com
A few too many of the stories had little appeal, so no five stars here. The collection stretches the definition of a "mystery", as most are basically crime stories and none is a traditional detective story where there is an early setup to the crime, followed by the action leading to a resolution through someone's analysis. In some, the whole story is a setup to a crime near the end, and in others there is no resolution, other than we know who did what through basic narrative. We have no detectives or private eyes here, and few cops.

Be prepared for some relative crudeness in language and crime and not much lightweight content where the story is really about the mystery. Not here.

Here are my favorites:

Keller's Double Dribble: masterful story of a hit man, with a creative twist.

T-Bird: poker-playing babe hatches a scam.

One True Love: prostitute / soccer mom deals with an untimely threat.

Stab: unusual mass murder up the food chain as told by the survivor of a pair of separated twins.

Solomon's Alley: sometimes the inner voice demands action.

Pinwheel and Meadowlands: two completely different stories that include horse racing. One is from the perspective of a cool dude who is part of some illegal activity and the other is from a nervous woman clueless about what will happen.

Queeny: quick, crisp story about danger while jogging.

Lucy Had a List: nothing will stop Lucy from achieving her goal to be a professional golfer.

That's nine of the 20. Some of the remainder fall into a pretty decent second tier, and a couple I didn't like seemed rather pointless or uninteresting, never clicking into gear. Some that didn't make my list were probably very well written, and I could understand their selection. "The True History" about the conflict between Texas and Mexico in the 1800s comes to mind. I simply didn't care for it. Sorry.
24 of 74 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unpleasant collection Oct. 9 2007
By rbnn - Published on Amazon.com
This disappointing anthology confuses "mystery" with turgidly written sordidness. If you are looking for ratiocination, deduction - or even civility - look elsewhere. Few of the stories in this collection were readable, as most of them comprised emotive, profanity-laced, hyperbolic ineptly written dialect and bombast. The characters tended to be borderline retarded, and the prose was overwrought. Previous anthologies in this series usually had a couple of well-written and thought-provoking stories, but not this one. None of the stories here raises a puzzle to be solved by the reader, for example.

My favorite was T-Bird by John Bond, which did an excellent job portraying the life of a professional poker player and which deftly tied together the poker and the action. This was a reasonably interesting and well-written story, but its company kind of dragged it down.

Here are my individual reviews of each story:

Stab, by Chris Adrian. I gave up after the first few rather disgusting pages.

Solomon's Alley, by Robert Andrews. I lasted half-a-page, until those gratuitous profanites that mark the inept writer.

Keller's Double Dribble, by Lawrence Block. I lasted until the second page of this one, when a clumsy conversation between a customer and a waiter in an Indian restaurant ("You wish to sweat" "I wish to suffer" etc.) ruined it for me.

T-Bird, by John Bond. Powerful and well-written, particularly if you are interested in poker. A terrific evocation of the characters in a poker room.

A Season of Regret, James Lee Burke. I skimmed this one. Seemed unremarkable.

The Timing of Unfelt Smiles, by John DuFresne. Didn't make it past the disgusting first half-page. Seems like a typically inept job, confusing goriness with skill.

Gleason, by Louise Erdrich. Readable and not entirely uninteresting character study based on a Fargo scenario.

Chellini's Solution, by Jim Fusilli. I skipped this one, which seemed a bit overwrought based on the first couple of sentences.

Where Will You Go When Your Skin Cannot Contain You, by William Gay. One of those stories written in some odd diction, I lasted maybe a page.

Take the Man's Pay, by Robert Knightly. The first line of dialogue is "What's up wit' Charlie Chang?" and it did not appear to improve. Maybe a page before I gave up.

One True Love by Laura Lippman. Quit after pointless profanity in the first paragraph.

The Spot, by David Means. A "funny diction" story, which I gave up on within a page.

Rodney Valen's Second Life. Another "funny diction" story, interlaced with profanity - I don't think I made it to the end of the first incoherent paragraph.

Meadowlands, by Joyce Carol Oates. I could not believe this story used the word "sweetheart" in dialogue twice in the first page - I didn't last longer. Strange diction too.

Jakob Loomis, by Jason Ockert. I skimmed it, seemed somewhat pointlessly gory and unsubtle.

Queeny, by Ridley Pearson. Excellent first paragraph leading into a concise and well-written story that raises intriguing questions.

Lucy Had a List, by John Sandford. Lot of profanity in the few pages I made it through in this one.

The True History, by Brent Spencer. Seemed overwritten from the first paragraph, I didn't get past that.

Pinwheel, by Scott Wolven. Well-written, interesting plot, but a jejune finale.

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