cover image The Best American Mystery Stories 2020

The Best American Mystery Stories 2020

Edited by C.J. Box. Mariner, $16.99 trade paper (432p) ISBN 978-1-328-63610-2

The 20 high-quality stories in this annual anthology showcase the talent of many authors genre fans may not be familiar with. The best entries offer variations on the theme of achieving justice, whether or not doing so is within the boundaries of the law. Brian Cox’s “The Surrogate Initiative” presents the conflict between truth and the demands of the legal system in a tale set in the near future, where robots are allowed on juries after court rulings that certain artificial intelligences, known as legal constructs, can constitute a jury of peers for human defendants. David Dean’s “The Duelist,” a historical, features a newcomer to Mississippi’s attempt to call to account a notorious duelist who has killed 12 men in affairs of honor. In Pamela Blackwood’s “Justice,” the murder of a disabled boy leads a man to a desperate ruse to nail a killer the law refuses to touch, and in Michael Cebula’s “Second Cousins,” the murder of a drug dealer may give a lawman a chance to avenge his mother’s death, even if it means bending the truth. Fans of literate crime fiction will be rewarded. (Nov.)