Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Best American Mystery Stories 1997

The Best American Mystery Stories 1997 (Serial)

Robert B. Parker, ed.

Date: November, 1997   —   Book

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Fiction, Mystery, Short Stories

In 1997, Parker decided to select from the best mystery short stories, and asked for submissions from the major magazines, most of which replied that they didn't publish mysteries. Then he had to explain that not all mysteries are mysteries that the reader must solve, and in some cases merely involve crime or other tensions. The result is, to say the least, a collection of very good stories, which range from the classic style of mysteries to that of near horror, or to simple stories that take a sideways turn right near the end.

One of my particular favorites is "Dark Snow," a story originally published in Playboy (which has a good reputation among writers for its high pay and quality work; they have to give guys a legitimate reason to say "I just get it for the articles.") It tells the story of a former covert operative who has settled into an insular little town, the type of town where you have either arrived or you never will. He is continually harrassed, vandalized, and asked when he is going home, but he is home, finally settling after a lifetime of moving... and having to fight against every instinct that tells him to take out these "pillars of the community" like the subhuman rats they are. (Really, in any decent town, they would not be given a pass for their criminal behavior.) His solution to the problem is utterly perfect, and the sort of thing you are glad is only in the pages of a book, because though they deserve it, we're better than that, aren't we?

Also notable is "There are Monsterim," because that story is apt to give me nightmares, it's so simple and chilling.

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