cover image The Best American Mystery and Suspense 2023

The Best American Mystery and Suspense 2023

Edited by Lisa Unger. Mariner, $18.99 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-331581-5

Though this impressive 20-story anthology features solid contributions from heavy hitters including Walter Mosley and S.A. Cosby, its most memorable entries are from relative newcomers who honor genre traditions while playfully pushing the envelope. Jacqueline Freimor’s “Foreword,” for example, utilizes the introduction to a novel by fictional author Edbert Reid to tell a twisty crime story. Footnotes cite literary studies of Reid’s work and dole out key nuggets of biographical information—including the fact that he was murdered—that artfully unveil the mystery bit by bit. Adam Meyer’s chilling “Mr. Filbert’s Classroom” toys with reader expectations after a school shooting leaves parents and children traumatized and a local sheriff begins to have doubts about the ostensibly heroic intervention that stopped the slaughter. Another standout is Annie Reed’s “The Blood-Red Leaves of Autumn,” a whodunit set on a space station that’s been orbiting Earth for decades waiting for “the world’s politicians and mega-corporations and religious zealots” to reverse catastrophic climate change. Reed delivers on the story’s clever premise with propulsive pacing and a surprise-filled plot. This rich tapestry of promising genre talent bodes well for the future of crime fiction. (Oct.)