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The Best American Mystery Stories 2011 Paperback – October 4, 2011

3.6 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


The excellent 15th edition of this "best of" series, edited by myster maven Otto Penzler, contains 20 winning short stories, many by relative unknowns. Among the standouts are Brendan DuBois’s "Ride-Along," in which a veteran cop and a freelance reporter get involved in a robbery, and Beth Ann Fennelly and Tom Franklin’s "What His Hands Had Been Waiting For," in which the struggle for survival in the Mississippi Delta during the terrible 1927 flood takes a strange turn. In Ed Gorman’s memorable "Flying Solo," two old men dying of cancer make the most of their last days. As in previous volumes, it’s hard to find lighter fare, but S.J. Rozan’s clever "Chin Yong-Yun Takes a Case" is a beautifully crafted and satisfying tale of amateur detection. Other contributors include such pros as Lawrence Block, Loren D. Estleman, and Mickey Spillane and Max Collins. --STARRED Publishers Weekly

"Ranging from homespun to lush and tropical, this year’s crop of 20 stories offers a variety of tastes and textures.

But exotic doesn’t always mean compelling. Charles McCarry’s "The End of the String," set in Africa, lumbers like an elephant toward a conclusion as momentous as a mouse. "Diamond Alley," Dennis McFadden’s quiet tale of small-town teens confronting the murder of a popular classmate, packs a far greater punch. Family stories are equally powerful. In Christopher Merkner’s chilling "Last Cottage," a young couple tries to outlast a neighbor determined to oust them from their waterfront home. Across cultures, mothers protect. In Richard Lange’s "Baby Killer," Blanca struggles with an acting-out granddaughter. And although embarrassed by her profession, a Chinese mother helps her detective daughter in S.J. Rozan’s "Chin Yong-Yun Takes a Case." An absentee father’s return challenges a wife who’s moved on in Joe R. Lansdale’s "The Stars Are Falling." But Chris F. Holm shows in "The Hitter" that sometimes the greatest threat is to the dads themselves. Families don’t always grow through birth or marriage, as Beth Ann Fennelly and Tom Franklin reveal in "What His Hands Had Been Waiting For." And of course, some families are just plain toxic, as Lawrence Block’s "Clean Slate" and Loren D. Estleman’s "Sometimes a Hyena" aptly demonstrate. But nasty behavior isn’t just a family affair. Eric Barnes shows teenagers wreaking havoc for no particular reason in his slow-moving "Something Pretty, Something Beautiful." And in "A Long Time Dead," Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins show that evil can turn up where it’s least expected.       

It has its highs and lows, but the best of Coben’s Best is really first-rate."


From the Back Cover

The Best American Series(R)
First, Best, and Best-Selling
The Best American series is the premier annual showcase for the country's finest short fiction and nonfiction. Each volume's series editor selects notable works from hundreds of magazines, journals, and websites. A special guest editor, a leading writer in the field, then chooses the best twenty or so pieces to publish. This unique system has made the Best American series the most respected--and most popular--of its kind.
"The Best American Mystery Stories 2011" includes
Lawrence Block, Brendan DuBois, Loren D. Estleman,
Beth Ann Fennelly and Tom Franklin, Ed Gorman, Richard Lange, S. J. Rozan,
Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins, and others
Harlan Coben, editor, is the "New York Times" best-selling author of twenty novels, including "Live Wire," "Caught," "Long Lost," "Hold Tight," and "Tell No One," as well as the popular Myron Bolitar series. The winner of Edgar, Shamus, and Anthony awards, Coben lives in New Jersey.
Look for the other best-selling titles in the Best American series:


Product Details

  • Series: Best American
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 2011 ed. edition (October 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 054755396X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547553962
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #988,314 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I've been reading more mysteries lately, after a long hiatus, and was pleased to get a chance to review the new edition of Best American Mystery Stories. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, given that my previous experience of mystery short stories was mostly limited to reading a few issues of Ellery Queen back in high school. I was pleased, though, to find a much wider range of styles and settings than I remember from the magazine. I now have a whole list of interesting authors to check out, each of whom gave me an entirely different reading experience.

I had three overwhelming favorites in the anthology. First was "The Stars Are Falling," by Joe R. Lansdale, a stylish post-World War One historical with the feel of a ghost story, though there is no ghost, only ghostly memories and a story learned backwards. It's not so much about a mystery solved, but the narrator's gradual discovery that there is a mystery, and then putting together the pieces to discover what it is.

Charles McCarry's "The End of the String" is a spy story, reminiscent of le Carré, with a richly-evoked African setting.

S. J. Rozan's "Chin Yong-Yun Takes a Case" is by the author of the Lydia Chin and Bill Smith series of novels--but in this story, it's Lydia Chin's mother, bunions and all, who plays detective and solves a case.

Though I much prefer reading novels to short stories, I'm still glad I read the anthology, because they gave me a good sampling of the mystery genre as it is today. I was especially pleased to find stories set in countries other than the United States, and featuring more diverse characters. My only wish is that there had been more stories by women authors, especially if they were as much fun as Rozan's.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Among the twenty stories were three I had read in the collections: Agents of Treachery and Warriors. All three were solid but just a caution that you too may experience some overlap from other works. I really enjoyed "Something Pretty, Something Beauitful", it followed four buddies spiraling out of control. There was an interesting "No Country for Old Man"-vibe to "Who Stole My Monkey?". The coldness exhibited by the lead character as the plot unfolds in "Ride-Along" is chilling. "Flying Solo" was a tidy tale of two old gents seemingly knocking something off their bucket list. And I really enjoyed the period pieces: "What His Hands Had Been Waiting For" set in 1927 and the return of a burnt out veteran in 1918 in "The Stars Are Falling." I would not categorize all the stories as "mysteries" but the majority do entertain.
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Format: Paperback
The Best American Mystery Stories are an annual anthology that publishes a selection of tales published in magazines an anthologies during the year. Each year a guest editor is chosen who determines from a list of about 50 submissions, their favourite 20 stories to be included. Harlan Coben is this years editor and as a fan of his books I was interested to read his choices.
The Best American Mystery Stories 2011 has great variety and I was more than impressed with the overall quality. Of the twenty short stories there were only two I didn't much care for. For me the stand out's included Clean Slate by Lawrence Block is the story of a woman damaged by her childhood who has found a way to take revenge, Flying Solo by Ed Gorman involves two elderly men dying of cancer leaving a better world behind them and Chin Yong Yun Takes a Case by SJ Rozan is a case of amateur detection in Chinatown by a minor character in Rozan's Lydia Chin series.
Many of the stories are quite dark and violent as to be expected when the story centers around crime. Some mysteries are solved, others are open ended leaving you to wonder. In others just who is the victim isn't clear. My interest in several authors work was piqued by this collection, others I was already a fan of.
I really enjoyed reading the Contributors Notes where the author provides some background to the development of their story. It's an inside look into inspiration that is rarely seen.
The Best American Mystery Series 2011 is a terrific read and I hope to get my hands on a few of the previous years issues. If you are a crime/mystery fan then you will surely appreciate this outstanding anthology, it's a must read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this last 2 months ago and have been reading the stories over lunch break. The stories are very well written - solid characterization, thought-provoking, open-ended and emotion-filled. These are NOT ALL MYSTERY STORIES, in fact, very few can be considered mysteries, even thrillers. These short stories are very diverse in selection, but can definitely be a selection for a literature class.

My choice top story is Eric Barnes' Something Pretty, Something Beautiful due to the way he painted the characters and the realism by which he did it. I know it was great writing when I felt myself connecting with the characters, even though I did not exactly go through the same experiences that they had. The writing has inspired me to pick up a pen and a pad, and to start writing again.

Other stand-outs include Last Cottage and Audacious. However, having said this, I did not dislike any of the stories. You will find this out as you read the anthology yourself. This is an excellent selection that introduces the reader to the writing styles of the various authors. This is my first "Best American" compilation purchase and chances are, it won't be my last. I have head good reviews about the "short story" selection as well.

Let me know your thoughts about the stories... it will be fun to exchange notes about them.
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