cover image The Best American Crime Writing 2005

The Best American Crime Writing 2005

, , intro. by James Ellroy. . Ecco/Harper Perennial, $14.95 (367pp) ISBN 978-0-06-081551-6

This is a solid and diverse collection of true-crime writing, if devoid of the memorable entries that marked the 2004 edition. The 16 pieces—some by familiar names such as noir master Ellroy, Freakonomics coauthor Stephen J. Dubner and terrorism expert Lawrence Wright—span a wider range of criminal activities, however, from an anatomy of bar fights (perhaps the slightest of the pieces) to the evolving nature of al-Qaeda as evidenced by the March 11, 2004, Madrid train bombings. Three essays stand out in particular for conveying noteworthy aspects of the criminal mind in a short format. Texas Monthly regular Skip Hollandsworth offers a compelling portrait of a respectable, church-going suburbanite who masterminded numerous burglaries. Dubner's piece also deals with a master burglar who specialized in designer silverware; Ivana Trump was among his victims. Justin Kane and Jason Felch outline the vicissitudes of an elaborate federal investigation of the Ukrainian underworld. Philip Weiss presents outstanding investigative work on a forgotten travesty of justice involving the Peace Corps (though it has less impact than his book on the topic, American Taboo ). Anyone interested in true crime should find something to enjoy in this wide-ranging collection. (Sept. 9)