cover image The Best of Sisters in Crime

The Best of Sisters in Crime

Various. Berkley Publishing Group, $21.95 (336pp) ISBN 978-0-425-16060-2

A treasure chest for discerning mystery fans, Wallace's newest anthology (Sisters in Crime 5) contains only top-quality gems. As she assures in the introduction, ""the writer of each story that's included in this collection has been short-listed for a major prize."" Joyce Carol Oates provides her own sense of drama in ""Extenuating Circumstances,"" in which a woman explains the reasons behind a life-changing murder. Tackling a similar crime, Wendy Hornsby, in ""Nine Sons,"" focuses on the stark Depression era and the chilling decisions one woman must make. Gabrielle Kraft's ""One Hit Wonder"" follows the tragic last endeavor of a man whose singing career peaked after one song and who has been searching for a comeback ever since. Marcia Muller, in ""All the Lonely People,"" adds a dollop of humor as her intrepid Sharon McCone joins a dating service in order to catch a thief. Mary Higgins Clark's ""Voices in the Coalbin"" skillfully blends suspense with the supernatural when a popular singer becomes obsessed with an old phonograph record. These perfectly crafted stories, each of which is preceded by a brief intro by Wallace, are packed with surprises and delicious scenes, worthy of being savored--even if not for the first time. (Dec.)