Sunday, October 7, 2012

Review: The Best American Mystery Stories 2010 ed. Lee Child

This book is one of a triumvirate of books that I ask for every Christmas. I received this one for Christmas in 2010, and it's been sitting on my shelves for a year and a half or so, waiting for me to get around to reading it. And now I have!

I love this series, especially the mystery stories. The criteria for submitting a story to this volume is that a crime or the threat of a crime must be central to the story. Over the years, this requirement has resulted in some truly surprising stories, and 2010's installment was just as interesting as these volumes usually are. The book has the top 20 submitted stories, chosen by a team of readers, narrowed down by the series editor, and the final selections made by the guest editor, in this case Lee Child, author of the Jack Reacher novels.

Far and away in this collection, my favorite story was Jay Brandon's "A Jury of His Peers." This story combined two of my favorite things: law and the Old West. It is based on a true incident, when the Spanish army kidnapped all the lawyers in San Antonio and held them hostage, during the Spanish-American War. This story deals with the aftermath. What happens when the lawyers return? Specifically, what happens to the men who have moved in on their practices (and, in some cases, their wives)?

While all of the other stories were very deserving of being included, I also especially enjoyed Lyndsay Faye's "The Case of Colonel Warburton's Madness," a Sherlock Holmes tale, done very well; Phillip Margolin's "The House on Pine Terrace," about a policewoman's affair that turns in on itself; and the late, great Kurt Vonnegut's "Ed Luby's Key Club," about a man seeking justice for himself in a town owned by another.

As usual, this collection was fantastic. I'd give it four out of five Whatevers. Perfect for the upcoming Read-a-Thon, for those who are looking to get more into short stories or those who already love them, and absolutely meant for mystery lovers. Please do yourself a favor and check out this series. The next classic short story might be in here!


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