Sunday, September 26, 2021

The Mysterious Bookshop Presents the Best Mystery Stories of the Year: 2021

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Best Mystery Stories of the Year: 2021 is an engaging anthology of twenty short stories curated by Lee Child and presented by Otto Penzler. Released 14th Sept 2021 by The Mysterious Press, it's 451 pages and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately. 

This is an engaging group of varied stories with major league authors (Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton, James Lee Burke, and others) as well as some who were less familiar to me. There's also a bonus story by Ambrose Bierce. The stories are varied, there were (as always) some which didn't grab me personally, but all were well written and competently plotted. They were mostly in the 4 star range(ish) with a couple of really standout stories. 

One reason I prefer collections and anthologies is that short fiction is really challenging.  It's spare and the author doesn't have a wealth of wordage to develop characters or the plotting.  Well written short fiction is a delight. I also love collections because if one story doesn't really grab me, there's another story just a few pages away.   

The audiobook format has a run time of 14 hours, 7 minutes and is beautifully narrated by Matt Godfrey and Emily Sutton-Smith. They both manage to read clearly and well and imbue characters with distinct voices and personality. I'm always impressed by very talented narrators' ability to imbue each voice with its own timbre and tone, especially in rapid dialogue. Both of these voice actors are quite talented and pleasant to listen to. The sound and production quality is very high throughout.

Four and a half stars. It's a diverting read/listen.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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