Mystery Books for Sale

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by Martin Edwards, ed.
Orenda Books, June 2018
312 pages
ISBN: 1910633925

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

In the latest Crime Writers' Association anthology, 28 stories span the globe with murder tales—all with some element of travel. The authors, many of them well-known names, take us to Africa, Thailand, Paris, Morocco, the Marquesas, and other intriguing destinations. In some of the stories, the characters don't have to travel far, so the United States and Britain are also covered.

The anthology opens with "The Queen of Mystery" by Ann Cleeves, who has become one of Britain's biggest mystery authors. Cleeves takes us to Maryland, though—to the annual Malice Domestic crime fiction conference. Although the conference is real, the plot (we hope) is not. An older crime writer whom others call "ruthless," "overly ambitious," and even "a monster" finds herself being eclipsed by a younger crime writer. The Queen of Mystery decides she must take action.

Martin Edwards, who edited the anthology, also has a story in it, "The Repentance Wood," set in Dubai. The narrator meets a young woman with whom he has an affair. She keeps telling him that the past matters, but he doesn't realize she's talking about his past.

Peter Lovesey reminds us why he is one of Britain's best crime fiction authors in "Lady Luck." A small-time robber who lives on state handouts gets a lucky break, winning a trip to Morocco. But will his luck hold?

Most of these short stories have twists and turns, of course, but perhaps no one does it better than J.M. Hewitt in "No Way Back," in which a boy from Britain ends up in the Appalachian Mountains, having traveled 3,703 miles to prove he can be the son his father wants.

Several of the stories, not surprisingly, revolve around crime fiction authors. In "Mystery Tour," Judith Cutler writes about an author touring in the Midlands. Someone is impersonating the author, has stolen her manuscript, cancelled her book signings, hacked into her computer, and even set her car on fire. But to what end?

The anthology is filled with one wonderful story after another, some told in unusual ways, such as “"Accounting for Murder" by Christine Poulson, a story via sales receipts, hotel invoices, and solicitors' bills.

Although the CWA is a British organization and most of the anthology's authors are from the United Kingdom, there are a few from elsewhere: Ragnar Jónasson, a rising star from Iceland, is included, as are Michael Stanley (a writing team from Africa) and American authors Shawn Reilly Simmons and William Burton McCormick.

In most anthologies, there are good stories and not-so-good stories. But MYSTERY TOUR seems an exception to that rule, with each story having been carefully picked by editor Martin Edwards. If you want to see how short stories can pack a punch, make sure to read this collection.

§ Lourdes Venard is an independent editor who divides her time between New York and Maui.

Reviewed by Lourdes Venard, August 2018

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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