The New Mystery

Jerome Charyn, Author, Jerome Charyn, Editor Dutton Books $24 (400p) ISBN 978-0-525-93516-2
Inventive, idiosyncratic crime writer Charyn ( Elsinore ; Maria's Girls et al.) gathers here a comparably vibrant and expert collection of international writing that often probes the far reaches of the mystery genre in a variety of forms. In his introduction, Charyn says: ``The best crime novels often solve no crimes, but lead us into the maze of our very own lives . . . They push the genre of crime writing to the very edge of its own possibilities . . . to present a genuine literature of crime.'' Despite a few duds, e.g., Joyce Carol Oates's gothic, minutiae-laden ``How I Contemplated the World from the Detroit House of Correction and Began My Life Over Again,'' masters of the mystery novel set off spectacular crime fiction fireworks. In ``The Watts Lions,'' Walter Mosely's L.A. sleuth, Easy Rawlins, finds a simple case of revenge in 1950s Watts complicated by a maze of rape and subsequent violence. Andrew Vachss's ``Cain'' details a simple case of animal torture, while James Ellroy depicts a low-rent grifter who, while caring for a deceased rich man's pit bull terrier, arranges to ensure a share of the pooch's legacy (``Gravy Train''). Raymond Carver's ``Cathedral'' features little overt crime but near-perfect structure and prose, as the visit of a blind man awakens thoughts both kind and cruel in his hosts, a married couple. Also included is short fiction by Flannery O'Connor, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Paco Taibo II, Nadine Gordimer, Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton and Tony Hillerman. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/01/1993
Release date: 02/01/1993
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