cover image The Best American Mystery Stories 1999

The Best American Mystery Stories 1999

. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $27.5 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-395-93916-1

In compiling the third volume in this annual series, which is edited by Otto Penzler, McBain (the 87th Precinct procedurals) has included tales that fall outside strict genre definitions. The collection is richer for that wide range. ""Survival,"" Joseph Hansen's deftly characterized 13th Hack Bohannon story, follows the stable-owner/PI into a racist compound in the Oregon woods. Held there on the eve of a major offensive, Bohannon interacts credibly with his captors: there's not one false note in the story. In David K. Harford's ""A Death on the Ho Chi Minh Trail,"" Military Police Investigator Carl Hatchett finds out why there were no bullet holes in the shirt of an American soldier who was apparently killed in a firefight with the VC. Reminiscent of her novel Them, Joyce Carol Oates's ""Secret Silent"" delineates a wrenching 24-hour period in which a young woman separates from both the pull and the burden of her upstate New York family's limited expectations. Lawrence Block, Stephen King, Philip K. Margolin and John Updike are among the 17 other contributors to this compendium of highly accomplished stories drawn from a variety of sources, mystery-specific and not. (Oct.)