cover image Kwik Krimes

Kwik Krimes

Edited by Otto Penzler. Amazon/Thomas & Mercer, $14.95 trade paper (374p) ISBN 978-1-612183-00-8

Give Penzler (The Big Book of Ghost Stories) credit for an interesting angle for this anthology of 81 crime stories, each no more than a thousand words. As he notes in his introduction, “It is hard to hide clues and have enough reasonable suspects in a total of about four pages,” and so there are relatively few whodunits, but plenty of last-paragraph twists. Contributors include such talented mystery writers as Reed Farrel Coleman, Bruce DeSilva, Loren Estleman, Lyndsay Faye, and Steve Hockensmith. But the constraints of the format make many entries little more than amuse-bouches. Estleman, for example, trots out his Nero Wolfean lead, Claudius Lyon, in “Wolfe on the Roof,” to good effect. While readers who admire his homage to Stout will seek out longer Lyon stories, the puzzle to unravel here is trivial. Ironically, one of the shortest of the short, Christopher Coake’s “Acknowledgments,” a cleverly disguised confession, works best. (Aug.)