I’m going to say that while I did like this collection, I don’t necessarily know that I personally would have called all the included stories “mystery” stories. A lot of them fell into more of a ‘suspense’ or general ‘crime’ genres rather than a true mystery story. That didn’t bother me most of the time, but it was enough of a thing that I wanted to get it out there for anyone who may want to check this one out.
As with most short story collections, there are some great stories and some that didn’t work as well for me. I take that as a given when I pick up one of these annuals, but this one was a pretty solid hit to miss ratio.
There are 20 (I think) stories in here, and a good mix of both male and female authors, which I like to see, including some from pretty well known authors. I obviously don’t want to give too much away about any individual story, but there were some that stood out.
The First Story, Banana Triangle Six, is a good opening gut punch. I liked this one a lot and I liked that it was a bit of a twist on the idea of a mystery. I also really enjoyed Small Signs by Charlene Harris, this is a nice departure from her Sookie Stackhouse books if that’s how you best know her work. Death in the Serengeti by David H. Hendrickson probably had me rooting the hardest for the hero, and Phantomwise 1972 by Joyce Carol Oates was heartbreakingly real. I also really liked Gun Work by John M. Floyd. Those were I think my standout favorites. There are a lot of solid Honorable Mentions in here as well, though.
There was actually only one or two I couldn’t really get into. Smoked was a little dry and macho for my personal taste and The Designee was really just kind of depressing in a way that I wasn’t really ready for. I will say, though, these are mostly personal preference issues, not so much writing quality issues, so these stories could be right up someone else’s alley.
I did pick this one up and put it down a few times as I read other things. That’s what I like to do with short story collections in general, I use them as sort of palate cleansers in between bigger, denser books. This collection is perfect for that. I’m not sure I would want to just binge thorough this one, I think some of the stories might end up getting lost in the shuffle without a pause between them.