A top pick! Don't be surprised at the high quality of "mystery" stories in this anthology since the whole series stands up to scrutiny by the best and snarkiest of critics. Every story in the entire series is finely crafted and entertaining, to say the least.
In this case, Suspense Master Jeff Deaver's picks are colorful, pulse-pounding and, as required of any crime novel, WICKED-TWISTED. Page-turners, all. My all-time favorite Joyce Carol Oates never lets me down for a romp through the derelict mind -- and check out this one by lesser known mistress of mystery, James Lee Burke's daughter, Alafair Burke. BUT BUYER BEWARE: If you have a weak heart, make sure you get your aspirin handy and have your defibrillator on alert.
I hesitate to be blunt about this but I must post one little note about the current definition of "MYSTERY" before some Agatha Christie fan comes and posts a critique about this outstanding CRIME anthology and tries to deceive you into thinking it's unworthy.
This entire series a called "Best American Mystery Stories" because - NEWS FLASH - "mystery" has become the official umbrella catch-all word for crime stories!!!!! Thus, in a contemporary mystery story, order is not always restored after a murder; the characters are often psychologically disturbing if not downright DEVIANT - hello? it's a murder mystery!; and the social mores of the protagonists are not exactly mores to be desired!
In other words, these stories are written by the best living crime writers working in today's literary market. As a result, the stories run the gamut. They cover several genres within the overriding genre of "mystery fiction," which is to say they are often hardboiled, sometimes noir - but always suspenseful, prize-worthy, and thought-provoking. Think Doestoevsky, Patricia Highsmith, Cornell Woolrich, etc.
With all due respect, let this be a lesson to you. Take it with a grain of salt (because Series Editor Otto Penzler has published many cozy writers with his Mysterious Press imprint) but for kicks, he is quick to point out that the only "mysteries" he likes that have a cat detective or a recipe in them is where the cat is IN the recipe. ;-)