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The Best American Mystery Stories 2000 (The Best American Series) - Softcover

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9780395939185: The Best American Mystery Stories 2000 (The Best American Series)
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After just three years, THE BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES series is already a great success, earning raves from such diverse sources as Joyce Carol Oates, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, and ELLERY QUEEN’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE. Little wonder, given the power of the Best American brand, the talent of the series editor, Otto Penzler, and the high profile of the guest editors. Now, with the legendary mystery writer Donald E. Westlake as guest editor, the 2000 edition is sure to boost the series’ popularity even more. From Tfty exceptional stories chosen by Penzler, Westlake has selected the twenty best, including stories by Tom Franklin, Jeffery Deaver, Shel Silverstein, and Dennis Lehane, for a collection that will delight mystery buffs and casual readers alike.

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Review:
"It has been said that jazz and the short story are the two American contributions to the world of art, and they do seem to have at least this one thing in common: both are engaged in by the practitioner primarily for the love of doing it," begins editor Donald E. Westlake in the introduction to The Best American Mystery Stories 2000. Over the last three years, this series has become an annually awaited delight in the October mystery lineup, with series editor Otto Penzler providing the backbeat and writers like Ed McBain, Sue Grafton, and Tony Hillerman providing the editorial riffs that make each volume unique. Here, Westlake has helped produce an appropriately dark collection with a few sardonic chops, like the late Shel Silverstein's "The Guilty Party" and Bentley Dadmun's "Annie's Dream."

The contributors are nicely balanced between big names like Jeffery Deaver and Dennis Lehane; short-story stalwarts like Barbara D'Amato, Tom Franklin, and Doug Allyn; and newcomers like Geary Danihy, whose first published story, "Jumping with Jim," adds a Conradian twist to the story mix. The nice thing about mystery short stories vis--vis novels is that they rarely sacrifice the elements of plot and motive to the whimsy of character development. These in particular use the classic themes well, from jealousy and revenge in Deaver's "Triangle" (where the murderer's identity is given a surprise fillip), D'Amato's "Motel 66," and Lehane's "Running Out of Dog," to professional rivalry in Edward Lee's "ICU" (the title of which is a very dark pun indeed), to sheer disgust in Allyn's graceful "Miracles! Happen!" and Robert Girardi's "The Defenestration of Aba Sid." If there is any weakness to the collection, it might be the preponderance of Southern and rural story settings, but that also helps give it the uniquely American flavor this series is known for. Think of it like a good Glenn Miller album: it may not push the envelope of the art, but it's got more than enough variety to keep any fan of American mystery entertained through more than one long autumn evening. --Barrie Trinkle

About the Author:
OTTO PENZLER is a renowned mystery editor, publisher, columnist, and owner of New York’s The Mysterious Bookshop, the oldest and largest bookstore solely dedicated to mystery fiction. He has edited more than fifty crime-fiction anthologies. He lives in New York.

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