Every year, I look forward to the appearance in bookstores of Mariner Book’s The Best American Series – an annual compilation of the best short fiction and nonfiction. First purchase is always The Best American Mystery Stories. This year’s editor is Lee Child, and the series editor is Otto Penzler author and owner of The Mysterious Bookshop, now located in the Tribeca neighborhood of Manhattan.
Penzler selected 50 stories from among the who-knows-how-many submitted by authors, publishers, fans, as well as through the ever-so-vigilant scouring of potential publications by Penzler himself. Lee Child then chose 20 of the 50. Child is the author of Jack Reacher series, so it will be interesting to see if he chooses stories similar to the type he tends to write, or if he is more wide-ranging in his tastes.
I always turn first to the front of the book to scope out A) what authors I know have made the book and B) the original publication for the selected stories. Dennis Lehane (known for Mystic River and Shutter Island, among others) has a story, as does Phillip Margolin, the criminal-defense-attorney-turned-bestselling-legal-thriller-author.
This year Ellery Queen is the source for three stories and the sister publication, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, has one. Noir is in store with Boston Noir getting two nods and Black Noir with one.
I plan to read all the stories and rank them, with a special “call out” if there are any that I think I could have written myself. (Don’t hold your breath on that one – typically 18 out of the 20 stories blow me away and two out of 20 are great, just not my kind of thing.) So watch this space, or better yet, go buy the book and read the stories!