cover image The Best American Mystery Stories 2014

The Best American Mystery Stories 2014

Edited by Laura Lippman. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $14.95 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-0-544-03464-8

The 20 entries in series editor Otto Penzler’s 18th annual collection of crime stories impress with their quality, diversity, and almost complete absence of private detectives or policemen as main character. The many gems include “Almost Like Christmas,” a recently discovered, heart-wrenching story by the late Joseph Heller, as well as selections from such well-known mystery writers as James Lee Burke (“Getting Across Jordan”) and Megan Abbott (“My Heart Is Either Broken”). There are also strong offerings from mainstream authors, such as Russell Banks’s “Former Marine,” which is about an elderly bank robber and his sons, and Annie Proulx’s “Rough Deeds,” which reaches back to colonial times. Charlaine Harris displays her sly wit in “Small Kingdoms,” in which a high school principal defends her turf, and Matthew Neill Null’s “Gauley Season” takes readers wild river rafting in West Virginia, where not all dangers come from the water. Guest editor Lippman has chosen wisely. [em]Agent: Nat Sobel, Sobel Weber. (Oct.) [/em]