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The Best American Mystery Stories 2006 (2006)

by Scott Turow (Editor), Otto Penzler (Series Editor)

Other authors: Karen E. Bender (Contributor), C. J. Box (Contributor), James Lee Burke (Contributor), Jeffery Deaver (Contributor), Jane Haddam (Contributor)17 more, William Harrison (Contributor), Alan Heathcock (Contributor), Emory Holmes (Contributor), Emory Holmes, II (Contributor), Wendy Hornsby (Contributor), Andrew Klavan (Contributor), Elmore Leonard (Contributor), Laura Lippman (Contributor), Mike MacLean (Contributor), Ed McBain (Contributor), Walter Mosley (Contributor), Joyce Carol Oates (Contributor), Sue Pike (Contributor), Emily Raboteau (Contributor), R.T. Smith (Contributor), Jeff Somers (Contributor), Scott Wolven (Contributor)

Series: The Best American Mystery Stories (2006), Best American (2006)

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(This review applies to the 2006 volume, edited by Scott Turow.)

Let us be clear what this book is and is not: it is not a book of mystery stories, as the term is generally understood; this is a book of crime stories. And that is not (just) my opinion. Turow spends the first few pages of his introduction acknowledging and attempting to rationalize his fraud. Here is a quotation from the introduction: "...these stories are portraits, in styles ranging from sly to harrowing, of how crimes occurred—the evolution of circumstances so that bad-acting becomes inevitable" (pp. xiv–xv). He tries arguing that "Mysteries are classic three-act stories, which is why naming these volumes [sic] Best American Mystery Stories is actually very fair" (p. xv). Turow's a smart enough guy to be asked to edit an anthology; why, then, has he made such an idiotic argument? Some B are A; these C are B; therefore these C are A? Yeah, no. His first premiss might be true but his implied second premiss certainly is not, and even if it were the conclusion is still false. That all of the pieces are even stories is a weak enough premiss that he begins—on the 3rd page of his introduction (p. xvi), referring to those 4 or 5 stories that are exercises in leaving as much as possible to inference—to explain why those 'stories' that satisfy neither the "story" nor the "mystery" requirement are, nonetheless, mystery stories. Whatever he intended to accomplish, Turow got me to think of him as a dishonest prick, before I've read any of his own fiction; nor am I too keen on checking out any of the other volumes in the series. I hope he (and the series editor and publisher) is OK with that.

What of the stories themselves? About 2/3 of the stories are tolerable: though crime rather than mystery stories, at least they're stories, although one or two are rather more horrifying than I was prepared for. The remaining 4 or 5 are those pretentious story-less exercises in literary conceit.

So, as an anthology of mystery stories, this is a failure. Stories? Mostly but not entirely. Mystery? Nope. ( )
  drbubbles | Oct 19, 2011 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Turow, ScottEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Penzler, OttoSeries Editormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Bender, Karen E.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Box, C. J.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Burke, James LeeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Deaver, JefferyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Haddam, JaneContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Harrison, WilliamContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Heathcock, AlanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Holmes, EmoryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Holmes, Emory, IIContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hornsby, WendyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Klavan, AndrewContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Leonard, ElmoreContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lippman, LauraContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
MacLean, MikeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McBain, EdContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mosley, WalterContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Oates, Joyce CarolContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pike, SueContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Raboteau, EmilyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Smith, R.T.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Somers, JeffContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wolven, ScottContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed

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Book description
2006 Series Contributors: C.J. Box, James Lee Burke, Jeffery Deaver, Jane Haddam, William Harrison, Alan Heathcock, Emory Holmes II, Wendy Hornsby,Andrew Klavan, Elmore Leonard, Laura Lippman, Ed McBain, Mike Maclean, Walter Mosley, Joyce Carol Oates, Sue Pike, Emily Raboteau, R T Smith, Jeff Somers, Scott Wolven.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0618517472, Paperback)

"[Most of] these stories are portraits, in styles ranging from sly to harrowing, of how crimes occurred ... If you like all your characters living at the end of a story, this may not be the book for you." -- from the introduction by Scott Turow

Best-selling author Scott Turow takes the helm for the tenth edition of this annual, featuring twenty-one of the past year's most distinguished tales of mystery, crime, and suspense.

Elmore Leonard tells the tale of a young woman who's fled home with a convicted bank robber. Walter Mosley describes an over-the-hill private detective and his new client, a woman named Karma. C. J. Box explores the fate of two Czech immigrants stranded by the side of the road in Yellowstone Park. Ed McBain begins his story on role-playing with the line "'Why don't we kill somebody?' she suggested." Wendy Hornsby tells of a wild motorcycle chase through the canyons outside Las Vegas. Laura Lippman describes the "Crack Cocaine Diet." And James Lee Burke writes of a young boy who may have been a close friend of Bugsy Siegel.

As Scott Turow notes in his introduction, these stories are "about crime -- its commission, its aftermath, its anxieties, its effect on character." The Best American Mystery Stories 2006 is a powerful collection for all readers who enjoy fiction that deals with the extremes of human passion and its dark consequences.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:58 -0400)

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