The World's Finest Mystery and Crime Stories: 4: Fourth Annual Collectionby Ed Gorman, Martin H. Greenberg
More than 200,000 words of the best mystery and suspense fiction from around the world
The world's Finest Mystery and Crime Stories
Each year, editors Ed Gorman and Martin H. Greenberg cast their net far and wide, across the seas, throughout the world to catch the best-the most suspenseful, most original, intriguing, confounding, downright/p>/p>/b>
More than 200,000 words of the best mystery and suspense fiction from around the world
The world's Finest Mystery and Crime Stories
Each year, editors Ed Gorman and Martin H. Greenberg cast their net far and wide, across the seas, throughout the world to catch the best-the most suspenseful, most original, intriguing, confounding, downright entertaining stories of crime and mystery. Edgar winners from the U.S., Silver Dagger winners from the U.K., and stories from elsewhere as well come together here in a bountiful crop of great stories by the best in the business, including Lawrence Block - Jon L. Breen - Stanley Cohen - Bill Crider - Jeffery Deaver - Jeremiah Healy - Clark Howard - Susan Isaacs - John Lutz - Sharyn McCrumb - Ralph McInerny - Anne Perry - Bill Pronzini - Donald E. Westlake and many others.
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The World's Finest Mystery and Crime Stories
Fourth Annual Collection
By Ed Gorman, Martin H. Greenberg
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2003 Tekno Books and Ed Gorman
All rights reserved.
The Year in Mystery and Crime Fiction: 2002
Jon L. Breen
In any field of endeavor, transition is a constant, but for mystery fiction 2002, more than most, was a Year of Transitions. Early in the year, shortly after being named cowinner (with Janet Hutchings) of the Ellery Queen Award by Mystery Writers of America, Cathleen Jordan, widely admired and respected editor of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine since 1982, died, to be succeeded by Linda Landrigan. Mystery Scene, an essential source of news and opinion in the genre since 1985, moved its headquarters from Cedar Rapids to New York when sold to Kate Stine and Brian Skupin by publisher Martin H. Greenberg and editor Ed Gorman (cofounder with Robert J. Randisi). Walker and Company, a steady mystery market for many decades, first for British imports (including the American debuts of John Le Carré and Robert Barnard) and later for developing American writers (Edgar winners Julie Smith and Aaron Elkins, among many others), closed its venerable crime fiction line. Meanwhile, nontraditional markets outside the New York publishing mainstream continued their growth spurt.
Some known for mystery fiction made at least a temporary transition into true crime. Otto Penzler and Thomas H. Cook co-edited The Best American Crime Writing (Pantheon), which deserves to be an annual tradition. On the other hand, Patricia Cornwell, based on her unconvincing case against British impressionist painter Walter Sickert in Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper Case Closed (Putnam), would be well advised to stick to fiction.
The year's happiest transition, though its permanence remains in doubt, was American television's newfound ability to accomplish something British TV has been doing for years: make strong and faithful adaptations of detective fiction classics. While viewers throughout the world have enjoyed meticulous small-screen versions of Agatha Christie's Poirot and Miss Marple, Colin Dexter's Inspector Morse, and many other famous British sleuths, American TV for some reason (perhaps not trusting the strength of the material and/or the intelligence of its audiences) didn't have the knack. True, there have been those series about Mike Hammer, Ellery Queen, Spenser, Father Dowling, and other print sleuths, with varying degrees of success, but they were usually comprised of TV originals. For a reasonably faithful American adaptation of a series of novels, you'd have to go back to the Perry Mason series with Raymond Burr in the fifties and sixties. In 2001, A&E began its fine series of dramatizations of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe novels. The sad news that the Wolfe series was being cancelled in 2002 was followed by the much cheerier fact that Tony Hillerman's series about the Navajo Tribal Police had found a home on PBS's Mystery series, so long the territory of British imports. Skinwalkers, well cast with some accomplished Native American actors (notably Wes Studi as Joe Leaphorn and Adam Beach as Jim Chee), directed by Native American filmmaker Chris Eyre, and adapted by Jamie Redford, showed the same confidence and respect for its material as the best of the British adaptations. It is hoped this heralds a long small-screen life for the Hillerman series and leads producers to do the same service for other American classics.
BEST NOVELS OF THE YEAR 2002
The following fifteen were the most impressive crime novels I read and reviewed in 2002. The usual disclaimer applies: I don't pretend to cover the whole field — with today's volume of new books, no single reviewer does. But try to find fifteen better.
Max Allan Collins, The Lusitania Murders (Berkley). S. S. Van Dine sets sail on the great ship's final voyage and finds a surprising model for Philo Vance in the fourth of the author's masterfully conceived and executed disaster series.
Thomas H. Cook, The Interrogation (Bantam). Big-city cops circa 1952 have eleven hours to get a confession in a powerful and unpredictable gem from one of our best active writers.
Michael Dibdin, And Then You Die (Pantheon). One reviewer compared Dibdin to Agatha Christie, Ian Fleming, and Elmore Leonard, but the creator of Italian cop, Aurelio Zen, defies pigeonholing.
Ed Gorman, Save the Last Dance for Me (Carroll & Graf). The fourth case for Sam McCain, lawyer sleuth of 1960s Iowa, is the best yet in plot, prose, and period detail.
Parnell Hall, A Puzzle in a Pear Tree (Bantam). What better holiday present than a Puzzle Lady mystery, with the author's trademark humor and a plot in the grand tradition of clue-planting and misdirection?
Reginald Hill, Dialogues of the Dead (Delacorte). With much to offer the lover of elaborate wordplay, offbeat psychology, and literate narrative, the creator of Yorkshire cops Dalziel and Pascoe jostles with Martin Cruz Smith (see below) for the year's top honors.
Laurie R. King, Justice Hall (Bantam). The latest account of Sherlock Holmes and wife, Mary Russell, is the rare pastiche that can be recommended to those who dislike pastiches.
Rochelle Krich, Blues in the Night (Ballantine). Don't let the depressing subject matter — infanticide and postpartum psychosis — put you off this expertly crafted and often humorous case for a new Orthodox Jewish sleuth, true crime writer, Molly Blume.
Peter Lovesey, Diamond Dust (Soho). Bath detective Peter Diamond investigates the murder of his wife in the latest from a master of smooth narrative and reader manipulation.
Bill Pronzini, Bleeders (Carroll & Graf). It's good to report this is not the final book about San Francisco's Nameless Detective, as was rumored at the time of its publication, and it is one of the best in the series.
S. J. Rozan, Winter and Night (St. Martin's Minotaur). The private eye team of Bill Smith and Lydia Chin, whose relationship is as complex as the ornate plot, encounter some people who take high school football much too seriously.
Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones (Little, Brown). Not all runaway bestsellers are distinguished novels, but this hard-edged fantasy, told by a teenage murder victim, certainly is.
Martin Cruz Smith, December 6 (Simon & Schuster). This suspenseful and vividly detailed view of Japan on the brink of World War II, from the viewpoint of an American con man almost equally influenced by the two cultures, tied with Reginald Hill (see above) for my best of the year.
Richard Stark, Breakout (Mysterious). Another caper for professional thief Parker shows Stark (the grimmer face of humorist Donald E. Westlake) at the top of his game.
Laura Wilson, My Best Friend (Delacorte). In her third novel, Wilson again displays her knack for the time- and viewpoint-shifting saga, from the World War II British home front to 1995, the year of VE Day's fiftieth anniversary.
Private eyes. Among the sleuths for hire I enjoyed in 2002 were Dana Stabenow's Alaskan, Kate Shugak, in A Fine and Bitter Snow (St. Martin's Minotaur); Sue Grafton's Californian, Kinsey Millhone, in "Q" is for Quarry (Putnam); Paco Ignacio Taibo II's Mexican, Hector Belascoaran Shayne, in Frontera Dreams (Cinco Puntos); Max Allan Collins's Midwestern, Nate Heller, in the mid-century Chicago Confidential (New American Library); and Stuart M. Kaminsky's 1940s Hollywoodian, Toby Peters, in To Catch a Spy (Carroll & Graf/Penzler).
Amateur sleuths. The charming cozy meddlers could be divided into those who detected from real clues — e.g., wedding planner, Carnegie Kincaid, in Deborah Donnelly's Died to Match (Dell) and caterer, Faith Fairchild, in Katherine Hall Page's The Body in the Bonfire (Morrow) — and those who did not — e.g., gardening broadcaster, Louise Eldridge, in Ann Ripley's The Christmas Garden Affair (Kensington) and Emily Toll's travel-agent-cum-tour-guide, Lynne Montgomery, in Murder Will Travel (Berkley).
Police. Some favorite cops were active in solid cases, including James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux, in Jolie Blon's Bounce (Simon and Schuster); Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch, in City of Bones (Little, Brown); and Tony Hillerman's Leaphorn and Chee, in The Wailing Wind (HarperCollins). Andrea Camilleri's Sicilian Police Inspector Montalbano made an impressive American debut in The Shape of Water (Viking), first published in Italy in 1994, while Mat Coward's London team of bipolar Inspector Don Packham and Constable Frank Mitchell had an excellent second outing (or innings?) in In and Out (Five Star). Manhattan's Ben Stack and Rica Lopez sought a serial killer in John Lutz's masterful The Night Watcher (Leisure).
Historicals. The length of this paragraph reflects both this reviewer's taste and a steadily growing trend. A long-standing British series starring a team of detectives in fourteenth-century Devon continued to gain an American foothold in Michael Jecks's The Sticklepath Strangler and The Devil's Acolyte (Headline/Trafalgar Square). Other deep-in-the-past sleuths in strong form included Steven Saylor's ancient Roman, Gordianus the Finder, in A Mist of Prophecies (St. Martin's Minotaur); Kate Sedley's fifteenth-century itinerant, Roger the Chapman, in The Saint John's Fern (St. Martin's Minotaur); and Viviane Moore's twelfth-century Frenchman, Chevalier Galeran de Lesneven, in A Black Romance (Orion). Anne Perry's late Victorian, Thomas Pitt, was reliable as ever in Southampton Row (Ballantine), while her slightly earlier London private eye, William Monk, was in improved form in Death of a Stranger (Ballantine). The year's best new Sherlock Holmes case, aside from the King title on my list of fifteen, was Barrie Roberts's Sherlock Holmes and the Crosby Murder (Carroll & Graf). A Scotland Yard detective solves a case in 1922 India, in Barbara Cleverly's first novel The Last Kashmiri Rose (Carroll & Graf/Penzler). Other twentieth-century historical sleuths in action included Carola Dunn's 1920s journalist, Daisy Dalrymple, in The Case of the Murdered Muckraker (St. Martin's Minotaur); Michael Pearce's British functionary in 1910 Egypt, the Mamur Zapt, in The Camel of Destruction (Poisoned Pen); and Michael Kilian's Jazz Age art dealer, Bedford Green, in The Uninvited Countess (Berkley).
Thrillers. Val Davis's historical archaeologist, Nicolette Scott, had another harrowing outing in Thread of the Spider (St. Martin's Minotaur). Michael Connelly's second book of the year, Chasing the Dime (Little, Brown), was a riveting piece of technological suspense. Tales of professional criminals are not my usual meat, but I make an exception with novels as intriguing as Ken Bruen's London Boulevard (Do-Not/Dufour), a homage to Billy Wilder's great film, Sunset Boulevard.
Single-author short-story collections continue to burgeon satisfactorily. Ian Rankin's 1992 John Rebus collection, A Good Hanging (St. Martin's Minotaur), finally saw American publication, while a second volume, Beggars Banquet (Orion), appeared in Britain. Among the year's other highlights were Donald Thomas's Sherlock Holmes and the Voice from the Crypt (Carroll & Graf), his second group of stories involving the Baker Street sleuth with real-life crimes; Peter Lovesey's varied and polished The Sedgemoor Strangler and Other Stories of Crime (Crippen & Landru); Nero Blanc's A Crossworder's Holiday (Berkley), about a puzzle-editor and private eye team; Jan Burke's 18 (A.S.A.P.), with an introduction by Edward D. Hoch; Michael Collins's early-career retrospective Spies and Thieves, Cops and Killers, Etc. (Five Star); and the first full English translation of Georges Simenon's The 13 Culprits (Crippen & Landru), published in France in 1932 as Les 13 Coupables.
Crippen & Landru's new Lost Classics series brought a new generation of readers to some great writer/detective teams of the past, including Peter Godfrey's The Newtonian Egg and Other Cases of Rolf le Roux; Craig Rice's Murder, Mystery, and Malone; Stuart Palmer's Hildegarde Withers: Uncollected Riddles; Charles B. Child's The Sleuth of Baghdad, about Inspector Chafik; and Christianna Brand's The Spotted Cat and Other Mysteries from Inspector Cockrill's Casebook. In its partnership with Black Mask Press, Crippen & Landru presented the first short-story collection of legendary pulp writer Raoul Whitfield, Jo Gar's Casebook.
In a semireverse on mystery fiction's venerable tradition of disguising short-story collections as novels, several recent Five Star products marketed as collections have reprinted novels as the majority of their contents: Robert Colby's The Last Witness and Other Stories, K. K. Beck's The Tell-Tale Tattoo and Other Stories, Susan Dunlap's Karma and Other Stories, Carolyn G. Hart's Secrets and Other Stories of Suspense, Joan Hess's Death of a Romance Writer and Other Stories, and Graham Masterton's Charnel House and Other Stories. This is not an objection, you understand: think of it as a novel reissue with a bonus.
For the permanent shelf were Lawrence Block's eighty-four-story retrospective, Enough Rope (Morrow), similar but not identical to his 1999 British volume, Collected Short Stories; and Patricia Highsmith's Nothing That Meets the Eye: The Uncollected Stories (Norton).
The bumper crop of original theme anthologies included several illustrating the growing popularity of historical mysteries: Murder, My Dear Watson (Carroll & Graf), another set of new Sherlock Holmes pastiches edited by Martin H. Greenberg, Jon Lellenberg, and Daniel Stashower; Much Ado About Murder (Berkley), Shakespearean mysteries edited by Anne Perry; The Mammoth Book of Egyptian Whodunits (Carroll & Graf), edited by Mike Ashley; and White House Pet Detectives (Cumberland), edited by Carole Nelson Douglas. Though not specifically designated as historical, tales set in the distant or recent past were prominent in Murder Most Catholic (Cumberland), edited by Ralph McInerny; the Alaskan-themed The Mysterious North (Signet), edited by Dana Stabenow; and Measures of Poison (Dennis McMillan), the publisher's twentieth-anniversary anthology.
Guns of the West (Berkley), edited by Ed Gorman and Martin H. Greenberg, illustrated the considerable crossover of western and crime fiction, including contributions of several writers familiar to mystery readers: Bill Pronzini, Bill Crider, L. J. Washburn, Gary Phillips, James Reasoner, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and editor Ed Gorman.
Among the nonhistorical theme anthologies were two strong collections of erotic noir stories, one of them mostly (but not entirely) from a male perspective, Flesh & Blood: Dark Desires (Mysterious), edited by Max Allan Collins and Jeff Gelb, and the other, Tart Noir (Berkley), edited by Stella Duffy and Lauren Henderson, entirely from a female perspective. Other notable theme anthologies included the International Association of Crime Writers' Death Dance (Cumberland), edited by Trevanian; the Adams Round Table's Murder in the Family (Berkley); and Otto Penzler's football anthology The Mighty Johns and Other Stories (New Millennium).
Excerpted from The World's Finest Mystery and Crime Stories by Ed Gorman, Martin H. Greenberg. Copyright © 2003 Tekno Books and Ed Gorman. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
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Meet the Author
Ed Gorman and Martin H. Greenberg have edited a number of anthologies, singly and together. Gorman is a Shamus Award winner for his own hard-boiled suspense; Greenberg has been behind numerous successful books, mystery and suspense, science fiction, and fantasy. Ed Gorman lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Martin H. Greenberg lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Ed Gorman, the Shamus Award winning author of more than a dozen novels and many short stories, has edited a number of anthologies, including The World's Finest Mystery and Crime Stories series. He lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Martin H. Greenberg received the Ellery Queen Award for editing in the mystery field. He published more than nine hundred anthologies and collections in the fields of mystery, science fiction, fantasy and horror. He lived in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Greenberg died in 2011.
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