The Best American Mystery Stories 2007

Overview

The best-selling author Carl Hiaasen takes the reins for the eleventh edition of this series, featuring twenty of the past year’s most distinguished tales of mystery, crime, and suspense.

Laura Lippman introduces us to a suburban soccer mom who moonlights as a call girl and who has a fateful encounter with a former client at her son’s soccer game. Ridley Pearson traces a famous author of horror tales who becomes trapped in a real one after ...
See more details below
Paperback
$19.07
BN.com price
(Save 13%)$21.95 List Price
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (55) from $1.99   
  • New (11) from $1.99   
  • Used (44) from $1.99   
Sending request ...

Overview

The best-selling author Carl Hiaasen takes the reins for the eleventh edition of this series, featuring twenty of the past year’s most distinguished tales of mystery, crime, and suspense.

Laura Lippman introduces us to a suburban soccer mom who moonlights as a call girl and who has a fateful encounter with a former client at her son’s soccer game. Ridley Pearson traces a famous author of horror tales who becomes trapped in a real one after his wife vanishes while jogging. Joyce Carol Oates travels to a New Jersey racetrack where the animals that break down are of the two-legged type. Lawrence Block tells the story of Keller, a hitman for hire who happens to live in Greenwich Village, loves spicy food, and collects stamps as a hobby. And Scott Wolven plunges us into the world of an ex-con who takes a job at a private and very illegal Nevada racetrack where each day millions are won and lost. Mostly lost.

As Carl Hiaasen notes in his introduction, "The stories in this collection would do honor to any anthology of short literature. More than transcending the genre of crime, they blow away its nebulous boundaries." The Best American Mystery Stories 2007 is a powerful collection certain to delight mystery aficionados and all lovers of great fiction.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

The 11th volume in this consistently high-quality series features such household names as Joyce Carol Oates and Lawrence Block, but for the most part it's the lesser lights who shine brightest with superb short crime stories that evoke human passions and bring characters to life with a few well-chosen phrases or images. As series editor Otto Penzler again cautions in his foreword, few of the stories revolve on "whodunit," the "why" having become more important in contemporary crime fiction. One of the best of the 20 selections is Chris Adrian's "Stab," a chilling tale of childish cruelty, as witnessed by an autistic child. Block himself weighs in with the masterful "Keller's Double Dribble," a story of double crosses, white-collar crime and basketball. Another standout is Brent Spencer's "The True History," a gripping account of brutality and revenge set during the Texas War of Independence. Cozy and Agatha Christie fans won't find much to suit their particular tastes, but lovers of good writing should be delighted. (Oct.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

In its 11th edition, The Best American Mystery Stories(edited by Penzler with a prominent author as guest editor, this year Hiaasen) continues to gather some of the best previously published mystery stories from magazines and collections. The authors in this edition include some not associated with the genre, notably Louise Erdrich with a tale of the effect of a fake kidnapping on its victim. Other contributors are Peter Blauner, Lawrence Block, Laura Lippman, Joyce Carol Oates, and James Lee Burke. Most chilling are the killers in stories by Chris Adrian and John Dufresne: an eight-year-old girl and a religious family man. Solid and dependable.

Forget the tournaments and TV coverage-poker is celebrated more for its male bonding, risk-taking, and frisson-adding illegality. The 15 stories in Dead Man's Handcenter on the game as played by good buddies, respectable family men, cops, PIs, shady men, even high-class women. Or poker may be used as a ruse and not played at all, as in Rupert Holmes's "The Monks of the Abbey Victoria." Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch solves a murder with a game of liar's poker in "One-Dollar Jackpot," and a cop's dreams of a decades-old game leads to his finding his father's killer in John Lescroart's "A Friendly Little Game." Another quality collection from Penzler.

The point of Expletive Deletedis that expletives aren't deleted, as Mark Billingham notes in his in-your-face introduction celebrating the f-word and berating readers who complain about sex and language. It starts off, appropriately enough, with Laura Lippman's "A Good **** Spoiled," in which golf is a cover for an affair. The levels of sex, profanity, and violenceincrease throughout, until the book ends with two of the most horrific stories, about war and its aftermath. Yet one of these-John Rickards's "Twenty Dollar Future," involving a 12-year-old boy whose father and friends are killed in clan warfare-doesn't seem to fit. Nor does Sarah Weinman's "Lookout," a clever tale about danger lurking in a community, with not an expletive in it. So what's the point? A marginal purchase at best.


—Michele Leber
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618812653
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/1/2007
  • Series: Best American Mystery Stories Series
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 1,296,109
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

Carl Hiaasen

OTTO PENZLER is a renowned mystery editor, publisher, columnist, and owner of New York's The Mysterious Bookshop, the oldest and largest bookstores solely dedicated to mystery fiction. He has edited more than fifty crime-fiction anthologies.
Read More Show Less
    1. Hometown:
      Tavernier, Florida
    1. Education:
      Emory University; B.A., University of Florida, 1974

Read an Excerpt


Introduction

Mystery is the nut of all great fiction, so it seems superfluous and even a bit patronizing to promote a separate category for it. Yet the tag has stuck since the heyday of pulp, and now it seems unshakable.
The stories in this collection would do honor to any anthology of short literature. More than transcending the genre of crime, they blow away its nebulous boundaries. Good writing is good writing, period.
Oh, there’s death in these pages. Death by shotgun, handgun, hammer, candlestick, Barlow knife, bayonet, golf club—even death by garage- door opener. But the stories are far more memorable for the characters than for the crimes.
“A plague set upon the world to cauterize and cleanse it” is our introduction to the menacing, grief-shattered Jeepster in William Gay’s riveting “Where Will You Go When Your Skin Cannot Contain You?” The Jeepster is hellbound, of course, which is not an uncommon fate in his neighborhood. There’s nothing common about this story, though, a dark poetic torrent that makes vivid a state of almost unimaginable heartbrokenness.
The ability to deliver such complete and compelling tales in a couple of thousand words is an authentic gift, and the envy of writers who cannot pull it off.
When novelists pace themselves, they set their own clock. Sometimes the goal line is visible; other times it isn’t. However long we take to get there is entirely up to us. Those who pick up our books can see how thick or thin they are, and adjust their expectations accordingly.
But readers of short stories arrive primed for a quick score, preferably in a single sitting. A writer must work essentially in a two-minute drill, trying to move the ball downfield quickly without fumbling. Such disciplined calibrations of plot and compressions of character development are difficult to do well.
In “Rodney Valen’s Second Life,” Kent Meyers’s narrator sets the hook artfully: “Everyone figured Rodney, Shane’s father, would end the Valen line. How the hell Rodney managed to find a wife’s beyond anyone. Blame the freeway.” That funny line leads down a haunted road, though, and the shadows will be familiar to readers of Poe and even Faulkner.
In “Gleason,” by Louise Erdrich, a philandering dreamer named Stregg tries to explain his recent life to his mistress’s brother: “Until I met Jade last year, you understand, I was reasonably happy.Carmen and I had sex for twenty minutes once a week and went to Florida in the winter; we gave dinner parties and stayed at the lake for two weeks every summer. In the summer, we had sex twice a week and I cooked all our meals.” The kidnapping that follows is brilliantly incidental to the fate of that marriage. Think O. Henry channeling John Cheever. While shored by tight structure, a mystery flops if the cast is uninteresting or fails to perform. The writers in this volume demonstrate zero tolerance for boring relationships, boring interludes, or boring endings.
Laura Lippman’s soccer-mom call girl in “One True Love,” Robert Andrews’s homeless hero in “Solomon’s Alley,” Jim Fusilli’s cuckolded Italian waiter in “Chellini’s Solution” — all are splendidly galvanized from beginning to end.
As it does in life, evil abounds here in a variety of presentations. We expect to see it in a psychotic stalker, but not necessarily in a band of Texas volunteers on their way to battle the Mexican army of Santa Anna in 1836. Brent Spencer’s “The True History” is one of the most chilling pieces in this anthology, and there’s virtually nothing for a reader to sort out.
“Let it be said here and now that a Texian has no taste for discipline,” the story begins, and soon it’s as plain as day: something truly ugly is about to happen, and all we can do is be swept along with mounting dread.
No less powerful is Chris Adrian’s “Stab,” in which an autistic boy is first befriended and then recruited by a budding serial killer who moves “as slowly as the moon does across the sky.” The search for a missing child leads to a sack of riled poisonous snakes in “Jakob Loomis,” Jason Ockert’s sinuous account of crossed paths and black luck. And in “The Timing of Unfelt Smiles,” John Dufresne arranges the ultimate counseling session between a family therapist and a fellow who’s just murdered his wife, his kids, and his parents. Obviously there are issues.
Sometimes there is no villain to blame, only fate or frailty — an accident of lust, distraction, or rotten judgment. Peter Blauner’s “Going, Going, Gone” is about a man named Sussman who is separated from his six- year-old son on the subway — a parent’s urban nightmare. Watching the boy’s face in a window of the departing train, Sussman fills with desperation and thinks: II have lost the only thing that matters.
For those who prefer conventional pump fakes and behind-the- back passes, there’s the redoubtable Lawrenccccce Block and his droll, likable hit man, Keller. Having a killer for hire as a recurring protagonist must be challenging at times, but it doesn’t hurt that this one lives in Greenwich Village, loves spicy food, and collects stamps as a hobby.
In “Keller’s Double Dribble,” he is sent to whack somebody in Indianapolis and finds himself killing time at a Pacers game, which for most assassins would be a pleasant diversion. However, basketball depresses Keller, so his attention wanders to other matters, such as why the stranger who hired him would kick in for two $96 seats. As Keller soon discovers, it was not an innocent gratuity.
Back in New York, a squad of detectives employs creative methods of interrogation on a Japanese businessman suspected of tossing a hooker from the window of his hotel room, in Robert Knightly’s “Take the Man’s Pay.” Far away, in western Montana, a man oils his Winchester and prepares to hunt down the three marauding bikers who killed his sorrel mare. The rifle is brand-new, purchased at a Wal-Mart, and does not comfortably fit the hands of the avenging rancher in James Lee Burke’s fine contribution, “A Season of Regret.” In “Meadowlands,” Joyce Carol Oates takes us to a messy afternoon at the Jersey track, where the animals that break down are of the two-legged type. More gambling adventure is at play in “Pin- wheel,” Scott Wolven’s story of an ex-con who takes a job at a private and very illegal Nevada racetrack where each day millions are won and lost. Mostly lost.
To the east, a peripatetic pimp known as Shank and a teenage prostitute called Meg contemplate the roaring enigma of Niagara Falls, in David Means’s “The Spot.” And in St. Louis, where Ridley Pearson sets “Queeny,” a famous author of horror tales is trapped in a real one after his wife vanishes while jogging.
Up in Minnesota, territory long claimed by John Sandford, a golf pro turns up dead and plugged in a sand trap, making for a difficult lie in “Lucy Had a List.” And way down in my own stomping grounds of South Florida, the most reliable freak show in America, a professional poker player gets lucky, laid, and then nearly lit up in “T-Bird,” John Bond’s hot deal on the Miami River.
All these pieces were originally published in story anthologies, distinguished magazines, and literary quarterlies that recognized them as fine fiction, not just fine mysteries. No single genre holds a special claim on grittiness and irony, blood-letting and remorse, betrayal and redemption — these are universal ingredients of art, and of the front page of your hometown newspaper; daily soul scrapings from back alleys, penthouses, suburbs, and farmlands.
Pulp is life. We are drawn to so-called mystery stories not only for anticipated thrills and surprises, but for the raw and reportorial light they shine on the human condition, which is mysterious indeed.

Carl Hiaasen

Copyright © 2007 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Introduction copyright © 2007 by Carl Hiaasen. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents


Foreword • ix Introduction by Carl Hiaasen • xiii

Chris Adrian Stab • 1

Robert Andrews Solomon’s Alley • 22

Peter Blauner Going, Going, Gone • 33

Lawrence Block Keller’s Double Dribble • 41

John Bond T-Bird • 69

James Lee Burke A Season of Regret • 88

John Dufresne The Timing of Unfelt Smiles • 106

Louise Erdrich Gleason • 121

Jim Fusilli Chellini’s Solution • 135

William Gay Where Will You Go When Your SkinCannot Contain You? • 148

Robert Knightly Take the Man’s Pay • 162

Laura Lippman One True Love • 173

David Means The Spot • 189

Kent Meyers Rodney Valen’s Second Life • 200

Joyce Carol Oates Meadowlands • 218

Jason Ockert Jakob Loomis • 241

Ridley Pearson Queeny • 257

John Sandford Lucy Had a List • 264

Brent Spencer The True History • 287

Scott Wolven Pinwheel • 304

Contributors’ Notes • 313 Other Distinguished Mystery Stories of 2006 • 324

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2008

    Rubbish

    If this is an example of the BEST American mystery stories of 2007, I hope to never read any of the worst. After reading more then half of this book, hoping the stories would get better, I finally quit reading in despair that it would get better. I hope in the future Mr. Hiaasen will stick to writing his incredible stories & books & not pick out other authors for unsuspecting readers to be disappointed by in buying a book that he edits.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)