May is National Short Story Month!
Short stories are ideal for readers, who may be pressed for time, but are craving something to read. Most short stories clock in at 20 pages or less, and they can be a great way to discover new authors, or sample established ones, before investing the time reading a full-length novel. Writers, too, can improve their craft by delving into short fiction and experiencing a multitude of voices and styles in their genre.
So here are 10 suggested anthology and story collection titles for the mystery reader/writer…
The Best American Mystery Stories of the Century. Edited by Tony Hillerman and Otto Penzler. Houghton Mifflin Company. ©2000 — This 800+ page volume includes 46 stories by such seminal voices in mystery fiction as Lawrence Block, James M. Cain, Raymond Chandler, Sue Grafton, Dashiell Hammett, Patricia Highsmith, Evan Hunter, Dennis Lehane, Sara Paretsky, Ellery Queen, and many more, including some authors who might not be known for their contributions in the mystery genre, like Joyce Carol Oates and Stephen King. Stories range in date from 1903 to 1999. Sample the “best” mystery stories of the 20th century!
Manhattan Noir. Edited by Lawrence Block. Akashic Books. ©2006 — Akashic has released a number of titles in their Noir Series, each featuring a place of distinction like Manhattan, Long Island, Boston, Los Angeles, Miami, London, Copenhagen, Moscow, and a host more. Each volume includes stories steeped in the title location. The first Manhattan Noir collection features Lawrence Block, Thomas H. Cook, Jeffrey Deaver, S. J. Rozan, among others. There are 15 stories here and the table of contents informs readers just which “neighborhood” in Manhattan each story is set in.
The Prosecution Rests. Edited by Linda Fairstein. Little, Brown and Company (Hachette Book Group) ©2009 — Each year the Mystery Writers of America releases a themed volume of select short stories. This edition featured “stories about courtrooms, criminals, and the law.” More than 20 stories are featured here, including ones by Linda Fairstein, James Grippando, Barbara Parker, and S. J. Rozan. Several new voices in mystery fiction are included as well.
The Mystery Box. Edited by Brad Meltzer. Grand Central Publishing (Hachette Book Group) ©2013 — This year’s Mystery Writers of America anthology features more than 20 stories with a more obtuse theme…the mystery box. “What’s in the box? That was for our writers to decide,” author Meltzer says in his introduction. In addition to Meltzer, there are stories by many familiar authors, including Steve Berry, Jan Burke, Joseph Finder, Laura Lippman, Katherine Neville, Karen Slaughter, R. L. Stine, and Charles Todd.
Two of the Deadliest. Edited by Elizabeth George. HarperCollins. ©2009 — The cover says it all, “tales of lust, greed, and murder from outstanding women of mystery.” 23 never before published stories by top female crime writers are featured in this anthology. Carolyn G. Hart, Laura Lippman, Marcia Muller, Nancy Pickard, S. J. Rozan, and Marica Talley join with Elizabeth George and some new writers in spinning tales that recall the seven deadly sins.
Murder in Baker Street. Edited by Martin H. Greenberg, Jon L. Lellenberg, and Daniel Stashower. Carroll & Graf Publishers. ©2001 — For those with a taste for the Victorian and the foggy streets of Sherlock Holmes’ London, this anthology of 11 stories might suit. Bill Crider, Loren Estleman, Stuart Kaminsky, Anne Perry, Peter Tremayne, and more “ingeniously contrived and shrewdly executed” an all new Sherlock Holmes story.
The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories. By Agatha Christie. Dodd, Mead. ©1939 — One of Christie’s finest collection of short stories, featuring Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, and Mr. Parker Pyne. Nine stories are featured here, including The Mystery of the Baghdad Chest, Yellow Iris, and How Does Your Garden Grow? Interestingly all three of those stories were expanded upon in other Christie works!
Kinsey and Me. By Sue Grafton. Peguin Group. ©2013 — Since 1982, readers have been entertained by the investigation of Santa Teresa, Calif., P. I. Kinsey Millhone. Nine Kinsey Millhone stories (written between 1986 and 1993) are featured in this wonderful volume, which also includes some touching and very personal stories that give insights into Kinsey’s creator.
A Question of Death. By Kerry Greenwood. Poisoned Pen Press. ©2007 — This illustrated treasury of Phryne Fisher is perfect for fans of the Jazz Age. Read 13 mystery gems and then enjoy the tidbits of trivia about Phryne, including cocktail recipes!
Mortal Lock. By Andrew Vachss. Vintage Crime/Black Lizard. ©2013 — Releasing this month, author Vachss offers 20 noir stories and one feature-length screenplay in this anthology of stories spanning 15 years. Kirkus Review (1 May 2013) calls it “a collection of white-hot short stories.”
So celebrate National Short Story Month, read some of these suggested titles, and let The Poisoned Martini know what your favorites are in the comments section.
Can’t find these anthologies/short story collections at your local bookstore? Try checking them out at your local library! This especially holds true for the older publications.