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The Best American Crime Writing: 2003 Edition: The Year's Best True Crime Reporting (Vintage Original) [Kindle Edition]

Otto Penzler , Thomas H. Cook
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

This year’s worth of the most powerful, the most startling, the smartest and most astute, in short, the best crime journalism. Scouring hundreds of publications, Otto Penzler and Thomas H. Cook have created a remarkable compilation containing the best examples of the most current and vibrant of our literary traditions: crime reporting.

Included in this volume are Maximillian Potter’s “The Body Farm” from GQ, a portrait of Murray Marks, who collects dead bodies and strews them around two acres of the University of Tennessee campus to study their decomposition in order to help solve crime; Jay Kirk’s
“My Undertaker, My Pimp,” from Harper’s, in which Mack Moore and his wife, Angel, switch from run-ning crooked funeral parlors to establishing a brothel; Skip Hollandsworth’s “The Day Treva Throneberry Disappeared” from Texas Monthly, about the sudden disappearence of a teenager and the strange place she turned up; Lawrence Wright’s “The Counterterrorist” from The New Yorker, the story of John O’Neill, the FBI agent who tracked Osama bin Laden for a decade—until he was killed when the World Trade Center collapsed. Intriguing, entertaining, and compelling reading, Best American Crime Writing has established itself as a much-anticipated annual.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Surpassing even last year's acclaimed inaugural collection, Penzler and Cook, with guest editor Berendt (Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil), return with another candid and powerful selection of true crime reporting. The editors have pulled together an array of essays distinguished as much by their insight and intelligence as by their riveting tales of bizarre and unnerving criminality. Articles such as "The Accused" by Paige Williams (which exposes the legacy of suspicion that has haunted a wrongfully accused man since 1978) and "The Terrible Boy" (Tom Junod's brilliant and compassionate portrait of an unlucky kid who swung a fateful punch and became a poster child for antibullying movements across the nation) transcend the genre to explore the disregarded costs of justice and lives destroyed in moments of thoughtlessness. Some of the essays confront depraved atrocities, but others are only marginally associated with crime. "A Woman's Work" by Peter Landesman recounts how Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, the former national minister of family and women's affairs for Rwanda, masterminded the rape and slaughter of thousands. While "The Boy Who Loved Transit" by Jeff Tietz tells the story of a harmless, lovable man with Asperger's syndrome whose obsession with trains leads him to repeatedly impersonate a New York City Transit Authority employee. This excellent collection covers Web-cam pornography, the Enron debacle, forced prostitution in Europe, killer attack dogs, the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, bumbling Nazi saboteurs and the science of rotting corpses-so there is sure to be something here for everyone.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.


“An artful mix of the political, the odd, the macabre, and the downright brilliant... The entire collection is an even mix of 'why didn't I clip that?' and 'how did I miss that?' Avid true-crime readers, take note.” –Entertainment Weekly

“Compelling, well written . . . a riveting collection.” –The Boston Sunday Globe

“Jammed with good prose, fascinating stories and probing investigative work . . . all first rate. . . . ‘Best’ really belongs in the title.” –Star Tribune

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1212 KB
  • Print Length: 511 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B009IA9766
  • Publisher: Knopf Group E-Books (July 22, 2010)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #565,448 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Collection is Hard to Put Down January 23, 2004
Simply stated, the "Best American" series is a national treasure. This is only the second volume of the Crime Writing entry, and it is already up there with Best American Mystery Stories and Best American Sports Writing in terms of quality. All of the Best American books feature great use of the written word, regardless of subject matter. In that sense, this book is a home run.
The book starts out with "Big Shot," the tragic tale of former NBA star Jayson Williams, and of the less famous man he unfortunately killed while showing off a gun in his home. "The Counterterroist" is about a wourld renowned FBI counterterrorism expert who retired to become head of security at the World Trasde Center, only to die in the attacks two weeks later. "The Last Ride of Jesse James Hollywood" is a disturbing spectacle of bored modern youth. "The Enron Wars" provide a great insiders view of that scandal. "How Two Lives Met in Death" is a heartbreaking tale of an Israeli and Palestinian teenager, one of whom killed the other in a senseless suicide bombing. And "The Bully of Toulon" describes how a psychotic resident of a small town instituded an atmosphere of fear among his neighbors until it exploded into violence.
These great tales and much more await those who decide to sit down with the 2003 edoition of Best American Crime Writing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Mixed Bag of True Crime May 26, 2005
This book is a compilation of a number of true crime articles written during 2002. The influence of 9/11 and terrorism is abundant. But many of the other stories delve into a more "bizarre" area of crime and the criminal mind. While none of the articles blew me away, all were solid and interesting. Anyone looking for true crime from a slightly different angle should look here.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good - but a Heavy Focus on 9-11 August 26, 2009
The 2003 edition of Best American Crime Writing is similar to the other books in the series. There are some great stories, but most are OK. The unique aspect of this edition is that it heavily focuses on stories that relate to terrorism and the 9-11 attacks. I thought that a lot of the 9-11 stories were a bit dated.

In my opinion, the outstanding stories in this edition are:

- Big Shot (from GQ) - about former NBA star Jayson Williams' inadvertent killing of a limousine driver.
- The Day Treva Throneberry Disappeared (from Texas Monthly) - about a young woman who disappeared after an abusive childhood. She traveled through the US, always returning to high school. After she'd spent 15 years in various high schools, her secret came out; but she still refuses to acknowledge her true identity.
- The Boy Who Loved Transit (from Harper's) - about a New York City man who loves the City's trains. He has spent his life impersonating a transit worker.
- Mad Dogs and Lawyers (from Rolling Stone) - about the infamous dog mauling in San Francisco. Some of the details from this one are unbelievable; the two lawyers are true cranks.
- My Undertaker, My Pimp (from Harper's) - a strange character study about a man who left the funeral home business to run a Nevada brothel.

This collection of short articles would be a good book to read when you are "between books" and don't want to commit to reading a full-length book. My only caveat would be to remember that the stories vary in quality.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly Informative & Interesting! October 29, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed reading this book! It is old crime news from 2003, however, there were several items that I had no idea about & some actually cleared up some questions that I had had at the time but forgot to search on! Shamefully, I of course knew about the Enron story but virtually ignored it at that time, considering it boring! I discovered it was actually quite fascinating! These are actual stories written at the time from a variety of sources, i.e., magazines, periodicals, & newspapers & were considered the most well written crime essays for the year! There were familiar articles, such as the infamous Jesse James Hollywood, the vicious Diane Whipple murder by dogs in San Francisco, & Rwandan genocide, to name just a few! With 20 articles, there should definitely be a few that should pique anyone's interest & other stories that may just fascinate!! I highly recommend!
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More About the Author

Otto Penzler is the proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop ( in New York City and is regarded as the world's foremost authority on crime, mystery and suspense fiction. He founded The Mysterious Press in 1975, which he later sold to Warner Books (1989). He reacquired the imprint in 2010 and it now publishes original books as an imprint at Grove/Atlantic, and both original works and classic crime fiction through (, in partnership with Open Road Integrated Media.

Penzler is a prolific editor, and has won two Edgar Awards, for Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection in 1977 and The Lineup in 2010. The Mystery Writers of America awarded him the prestigious Ellery Queen Award in 1994 and the Raven--the group's highest non-writing award--in 2003.

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