cover image The Best American Mystery Stories 2018

The Best American Mystery Stories 2018

Edited by Louise Penny. Mariner, $15.99 trade paper (432p) ISBN 978-0-544-94909-6

Despite the presence of guest editor Penny, general editor Otto Penzler’s mixed 22nd annual best-of volume heavily favors male writers; only two of the 20 contributors are women—Joyce Carol Oates and Charlaine Harris, both big names who turn in middling tales. That said, the 18 male-authored tales certainly include some gems. Lee Child’s witty “Too Much Time,” starring Jack Reacher, showcases his talents as a short-form author. Andrew Klaven’s “All Our Yesterdays” turns a well-worn genre trope on its head in a haunting story of a recovering WWI vet. And Andrew Bourelle’s goofy-sounding “Y Is for Yangchuan Lizard” is as bleak a noir exercise as they come. Other selections fall flat, such as Paul D. Marks’s “Windward,” a Venice Beach PI story that feels like an unintentional pastiche of the genre’s worst excesses. Crime aficionados will be entertained, but anyone expecting this anthology to make the case for the state of mystery short fiction being as solid as it is in novels will be disappointed. (Oct.)