Thursday, November 25, 2010

Christmas at The Mysterious Bookstore

edited by Otto Penzler
New York, NY : Vanguard Press, 2010.

Otto Penzler, real-life proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop in New York, has a unique way of celebrating Christmas. Every year, he asks a well-known crime author to write a short story that he makes into a booklet to give to his customers with their purchases during the season. This book collects seventeen of these stories, from 1993 to 2009, into book form for the first time. Including authors of a wide scope, from Donald Westlake to Mary Higgins Clark, what these stories have in common are three things: a mystery, The Mysterious Bookshop (at least mentioned if not a part of the story itself), and the holiday season as a setting.

What follows are stories as unique as the individual writers themselves, an excellent sampling of the mystery genre's variety. Though of course each reader will enjoy some stories more than others and these authors, for the most part, are novel writers whose stories often don't read like traditional short stories, there are really no complete misses in the bunch. Before reading this collection, I had heard of some of the authors but read none, so I really have no way of knowing how typical these selections are. Still, I liked some enough - my favorites were "Give Till It Hurts" by Donald Westlake, "The Grift of the Magi" by S.J. Rozan and "The Killer Christian" by Andrew Klavan - to look up the authors' full-length novels.

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