MRM Reviews in the spotlight reviews About MRM Advertising with MRM Contact Us MRM Home Image Map

Monday, March 26, 2012

Must Read Monday: Favorite Mystery/Crime Short Story Collections

One of the great things about e-books is the way they have made short fiction much more easily and inexpensively available.  In particular, there has been a boon over the past year or two in hardboiled short story collections, but there have been some excellent classic/cozy ones as well.  I have previously mentioned some of the best titles in my blog posts on favorite freebie finds and 99 cent bargains, including Nigel Bird's "Dirty Old Town", Edward Grainger/David Cranmer's pair of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles short story collections, and Loren Estelman's "Amos Walker: the Complete Short Story Collection".  Among my other favorites are:

Beat to a Pulp: Hardboiled, a lean, mean collection of 13 noir short stories edited by David Cranmer and Scott D.Parker. While all are quite dark, the collection varies in tone and voice. There isn't a dud in the bunch. My particular favorites were Thomas Pluck's succinct and distinct little revenge tale "Black-Eyed Susan" and Patricia Abbott's "Ric With No K", a story told in the voice of a 15 year old girl that invites comparison to daughter Megan's masterful novel "The End of Everything".

Keith Rawson's The Chaos We Know, a (yes) raw collection of slices of life on the edge.  I especially enjoyed "The Anniversary Weekend", which had me laughing (inappropriately, some might say) before an ending that was a punch to the gut.

Chris Holm's 8 Pounds: 8 Tales of Crime, Horror, and Suspense is an eclectic collection book-ended by a pair of wonderful stories about the long reach of the past, "Seven Days of Rain" and "The World Behind".

Dave Zeltserman's Julius Katz Mysteries collects a pair of award winning stories that originally appeared in EQMM. These are clever modern updates of the Nero Wolfe tradition. While the mysteries are excellent traditional mysteries, it is the "relationship" between Katz and his AI assistant Archie that is the star of the show. Once you read these 2 stories you will want to get the full length Julius Katz and Archie.

Lyvia J. Washburn's Hallam Collection includes 4 strong historical mysteries following the exploits of former cowboy turned early Hollywood stuntman/PI Lucas Hallam.  Of particular note is the change of pace "Hollywood Flesh", in which Lucas deals with zombies.

Patti Abbott's "Monkey Justice" is a masterful set of 23 dark psychological/crime tales.  It is hard to choose a favorite from this eclectic bunch of stories , but if a gun were put to my head I would go with "Catnap", told from the point of view of a baby snatcher.

Off the Record is a literacy charity anthology of 38 stories based on classic song titles edited by Luca Veste and including many of the best US and UK hard boiled short story writers.  As with any collection with this large there are going to be some duds, but there aren't many of them, and at 99 cents for 38 stories it is a great buy.  (Full disclosure:  when I bought this collection I sent in my receipt to enter a contest and won second prize)

The "Top Suspense" group of authors, including such luminaries as Lee Goldberg, Dave Zeltserman, Ed Gorman, Libby Fischer Hellmann, Bill Crider, Joel Goldman etc. has two topnotch collections:  Top Suspense: Favorite Kills and Top Suspense: 13 Classic Stories.

Lawrence Block's The Night and the Music compiles all of his Matt Scudder short fiction.  All the stories are good, but a few stand out. In "A Moment of Wrong Thinking", which gives a glimpse into the heart of Scudder's old partner Mahaffey, the story is left unresolved but is all the better for it. "Mick Ballou Looks at the Blank Screen" is a short vignette that has Mick musing on the final scene of the Sopranos (and I probably like it because Mick's interpretation matches my own -- Tony dies). Finally, there is the sad but sweet "One Last Night at Grogans" which puts a nice bow on the series as a whole.

N.C. Hyzy's Mystery Short Stories Volume 1 includes a pair of deftly plotted but not quite cozy stories from the alter ego of Julie Hyzy, author of the White House Chef cozy mystery series.  "Panic", in which a mother and daughter become the targets of a serial killer, is every bit as good as the Derringer award winning mob tale "Strictly Business".

And this is just the tip of the iceberg, as I have a bunch of short story collections in my TBR pile to look forward to!


  1. Replies
    1. My pleasure! I just finished your book last week and really enjoyed it. Once I was done I figured it was time for a round up.

  2. I didn't know Lawrence Block had a Matt Scudder collection. And to have my Hallam Collection included was a nice surprise. I'll definitely be picking up some of these. Thanks!

  3. You are most welcome! The Scudder e-collection came out about 6 months ago and the paperback version a couple months after that. I got the e-book version the first day it was available, and there was some sort of glitch with amazon where one story appeared twice and another did not appear at all. If it were a real book I might have had a valuable collector's item!


Contact Form


Email *

Message *