The Best American Mystery Stories 2011

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Overview

The Best American Series®
First, Best, and Best-Selling

The Best American series is the premier annual showcase for the country’s finest short fiction and nonfiction. Each volume’s series editor selects notable works from hundreds of magazines, journals, and websites. A special guest editor, a leading writer in the field, then chooses the best twenty or so pieces to publish. ...

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Overview

The Best American Series®
First, Best, and Best-Selling

The Best American series is the premier annual showcase for the country’s finest short fiction and nonfiction. Each volume’s series editor selects notable works from hundreds of magazines, journals, and websites. A special guest editor, a leading writer in the field, then chooses the best twenty or so pieces to publish. This unique system has made the Best American series the most respected—and most popular—of its kind.

The Best American Mystery Stories 2011 includes

Lawrence Block, Brendan DuBois, Loren D. Estleman,
Beth Ann Fennelly and Tom Franklin, Ed Gorman, Richard Lange, S. J. Rozan,
Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins, and others

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The excellent 15th edition of this “best of” series, edited by mystery maven Otto Penzler, contains 20 winning short stories, many by relative unknowns. Among the standouts are Brendan Dubois’s “Ride-Along,” in which a veteran cop and a freelance reporter get involved in a robbery, and Beth Ann Fennelly and Tom Franklin’s “What His Hands Had Been Waiting For,” in which the struggle for survival in the Mississippi Delta during the terrible 1927 flood takes a strange turn. In Ed Gorman’s memorable “Flying Solo,” two old men dying of cancer make the most of their last days. As in previous volumes, it’s hard to find lighter fare, but S.J. Rozan’s clever “Chin Yong-Yun Takes a Case” is a beautifully crafted and satisfying tale of amateur detection. Other contributors include such pros as Lawrence Block, Loren D. Estleman, and Mickey Spillane and Max Collins. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
The excellent 15th edition of this "best of" series, edited by myster maven Otto Penzler, contains 20 winning short stories, many by relative unknowns. Among the standouts are Brendan DuBois’s "Ride-Along," in which a veteran cop and a freelance reporter get involved in a robbery, and Beth Ann Fennelly and Tom Franklin’s "What His Hands Had Been Waiting For," in which the struggle for survival in the Mississippi Delta during the terrible 1927 flood takes a strange turn. In Ed Gorman’s memorable "Flying Solo," two old men dying of cancer make the most of their last days. As in previous volumes, it’s hard to find lighter fare, but S.J. Rozan’s clever "Chin Yong-Yun Takes a Case" is a beautifully crafted and satisfying tale of amateur detection. Other contributors include such pros as Lawrence Block, Loren D. Estleman, and Mickey Spillane and Max Collins.—STARRED Publishers Weekly

"Ranging from homespun to lush and tropical, this year’s crop of 20 stories offers a variety of tastes and textures.

But exotic doesn’t always mean compelling. Charles McCarry’s "The End of the String," set in Africa, lumbers like an elephant toward a conclusion as momentous as a mouse. "Diamond Alley," Dennis McFadden’s quiet tale of small-town teens confronting the murder of a popular classmate, packs a far greater punch. Family stories are equally powerful. In Christopher Merkner’s chilling "Last Cottage," a young couple tries to outlast a neighbor determined to oust them from their waterfront home. Across cultures, mothers protect. In Richard Lange’s "Baby Killer," Blanca struggles with an acting-out granddaughter. And although embarrassed by her profession, a Chinese mother helps her detective daughter in S.J. Rozan’s "Chin Yong-Yun Takes a Case." An absentee father’s return challenges a wife who’s moved on in Joe R. Lansdale’s "The Stars Are Falling." But Chris F. Holm shows in "The Hitter" that sometimes the greatest threat is to the dads themselves. Families don’t always grow through birth or marriage, as Beth Ann Fennelly and Tom Franklin reveal in "What His Hands Had Been Waiting For." And of course, some families are just plain toxic, as Lawrence Block’s "Clean Slate" and Loren D. Estleman’s "Sometimes a Hyena" aptly demonstrate. But nasty behavior isn’t just a family affair. Eric Barnes shows teenagers wreaking havoc for no particular reason in his slow-moving "Something Pretty, Something Beautiful." And in "A Long Time Dead," Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins show that evil can turn up where it’s least expected.       

It has its highs and lows, but the best of Coben’s Best is really first-rate."

Kirkus

Library Journal
Expertly edited by thriller master Coben and featuring an insightful introduction by series editor Otto Penzler, this superb anthology presents 20 high-caliber short stories, all first published in 2010 and culled from assorted journals, anthologies, submissions, and magazines. Beth Ann Fennelly and Tom Franklin's "What His Hands Had Been Waiting For" is a mesmerizing 1927-set country noir story that begs to become a novel. Or meet the crafty old dame in Ernest J. Finney's "A Crime of Opportunity." As a bonus, author bios and comments are included, along with a lineup of other recommended short story reads. VERDICT Some of the contributor names are huge—S.J. Rozan and Lawrence Block—but this collection offers a powerful array of familiar and new voices, leaning toward crime fiction's noir side. This is the perfect way for mystery fans to try newer voices in the field or to stretch their comfort level for subgenre reading.
Kirkus Reviews
Ranging from homespun to lush and tropical, this year's crop of 20 stories offers a variety of tastes and textures. But exotic doesn't always mean compelling. Charles McCarry's "The End of the String," set in Africa, lumbers like an elephant toward a conclusion as momentous as a mouse. "Diamond Alley," Dennis McFadden's quiet tale of small-town teens confronting the murder of a popular classmate, packs a far greater punch. Family stories are equally powerful. In Christopher Merkner's chilling "Last Cottage," a young couple tries to outlast a neighbor determined to oust them from their waterfront home. Across cultures, mothers protect. In Richard Lange's "Baby Killer," Blanca struggles with an acting-out granddaughter. And although embarrassed by her profession, a Chinese mother helps her detective daughter in S.J. Rozan's "Chin Yong-Yun Takes a Case." An absentee father's return challenges a wife who's moved on in Joe R. Lansdale's "The Stars Are Falling." But Chris F. Holm shows in "The Hitter" that sometimes the greatest threat is to the dads themselves. Families don't always grow through birth or marriage, as Beth Ann Fennelly and Tom Franklin reveal in "What His Hands Had Been Waiting For." And of course, some families are just plain toxic, as Lawrence Block's "Clean Slate" and Loren D. Estleman's "Sometimes a Hyena" aptly demonstrate. But nasty behavior isn't just a family affair. Eric Barnes shows teenagers wreaking havoc for no particular reason in his slow-moving "Something Pretty, Something Beautiful." And in "A Long Time Dead," Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins show that evil can turn up where it's least expected. It has its highs and lows, but the best of Coben's Best is really first-rate.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547553962
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/4/2011
  • Series: Best American Mystery Stories Series
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 824,888
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Harlan Coben

Harlan Coben's last three consecutive novels Caught , Long Lost , and Hold Tight all debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and lists around the world. He is a winner of the Edgar Award, the Shamus Award, and the Anthony Award.

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.

Biography

Harlan Coben may be the only mystery writer to have inspired the dubious endorsement, "Raymond Chandler meets Bridget Jones" (as the Chicago Tribune wrote about Darkest Fear). But it's not hard to see what the critic means: Coben knows how to create a good chase, but he is also adept at generating laughs along the way. His books often start with a few pieces of bad news and end with the closet door flung open to reveal a few skeletons.

Debuting in 1995, the series that cemented Coben's reputation revolves around Myron Bolitar, a wisecracking sports agent who always finds himself getting into trouble, via his clients or his own past. What's endearing about these books is Coben's willingness to have fun as he spins a story. He might poke fun the yuppie wardrobe of Bolitar's partner, Win, or his gal Friday (and sometime female wrestler), Big Cyndi's, tendency to wear "more makeup than the cast of Cats." There's a slight boys' club air to the series, but it's more frat house than locker room -- or more appropriately, rec room, since Bolitar finds himself still living at his parents' in his early 30s.

Sports-averse readers should not avoid the Bolitar books; in the end, sports play only a peripheral role in the story, which is primarily about the mystery. Given this, it's not surprising that Coben has called William Goldman's Marathon Man one of his favorite thrillers and has cited Philip Roth and Alfred Hitchcock as influences.

And yes, there's certainly life beyond Bolitar! Coben has crafted a number of superb stand-alone thrillers filled with tortuous twists and turns and peopled with characters you can't help but root for. In a 2001 interview, the author stated, "I love a book that sneaks up behind you at the end and slaps you in the back of the head." Ultimately, that describes everything in Harlan Coben's oeuvre.

Good To Know

Coben has four children with wife Anne, his sweetheart since age 20.

Coben advises aspiring writers thusly: "Write. Don't take classes. Don't join workshops. Don't listen to me," he told the Charlotte Austin Review. "Just write. Oh, and cut. Cut a lot. You're probably not editing yourself enough. Then rewrite. Then rewrite again. Repeat. Like with shampooing."

Coben says his mother was his best literary inspiration in an interview with the Page One literary newsletter. "We'd go to the old Barnes & Noble in Manhattan (back then, if you can believe this, I think there was only one) and spend the entire day. We didn't have much money back then and we almost never bought toys -- but we were always allowed to get whatever books we wanted."

In our interview, Coben shared more fun facts:

"I once worked as a tour guide in the Costa del Sol of Spain."

"I pretty much only wear Lilly Pulitzer ties because my best friend owns the company."

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    1. Hometown:
      Ridgewood, New Jersey
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 4, 1962
    2. Place of Birth:
      Newark, New Jersey
    1. Education:
      B.A. in political science, Amherst College, 1984
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 26, 2011

    Diverse Collection of Stories

    I am a fan of both short stories and mysteries, so The Best American Mystery Stories 2011 was bound to pique my curiosity. This year's collection was edited by Harlan Coben, so I knew this would be a good set of stories. Surprisingly, I think my favorite story was The End of the String by Charles McCarry. This story involves an American in Ndala who becomes involved with a military man wishing to overthrow the president. This is not a topic I would normally seek out, but what a storyteller! I was completely drawn into the plot. I also enjoyed Destiny City by James Grady, which centers around a terrorist plot. I am not one to seek out terroristic or political crime stories, but I found that I enjoyed all of them in this collection. My second favorite story in this collection was The Hitter by Chris F. Holm. The Hitter is about a hit man who kills other hit men. This hit man contracts with potential victims to profit off the fact that he can save their lives by killing their would be assassins. Eventually, his chosen profession catches up to him. Flying Solo by Ed Gorman is about two elderly men who befriend one another while receiving chemo treatment, and together they become vigilantes, fighting injustices. Honorable mentions include Who Stole My Monkey? by David Corbett and Luis Alberto Urrea, A Crime of Opportunity by Ernest J. Finney and The Stars Are Falling by Joe R. Lansdale. I discovered many new authors through this collection, as well as an interest in subject matter that I would not normally seek out in my reading. Many thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for providing me with a copy to review, via NetGalley.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2011

    No mystery

    This is simply a collection of short stories that are all "journey" with no "destination." The writing is okay but again, I thought it was writing just for the sake of writing. If you are seeking mystery in the traditional sense then tis book is not for you.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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