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December 23, 2021

The Mysterious Bookshop Presents the Best Mystery Stories of the Year: 2021 edited by Lee Child ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts

The short story can't expand on multiple themes, characters, subplots, and dozens of different settings in the same way a novel can. There is just no room. ... The length, number of characters, and the condensed structure make short story writing more difficult than novel writing.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

The Best Mystery Stories of Year
September 2021; Mysterious Press; 978-1613162675
audio, ebook, print (451 pages); mystery

I don't read many short stories but when I saw that this book of 2021 had some of my favorite authors, I decided to give it a try.  It was a fantastic group of mystery stories with many more hits than misses.  Not only was I able to read stories by some of my favorites but I found a few new authors to follow.  My favorite stories in this anthology were by Sue Grafton, Stephen King, and Joyce Carol Oates.

Sue Grafton is the author that brought us Kinsey Millhone in the alphabet series.  She died before she could write the last story in the series.  Her short story is called If You Want to do Something Right.  Lucy and Bert have been married for years.  Bert is a lawyer, an alcoholic, and consistently unfaithful to her.  She kept a secret notebook on how to kill him and when she got angry she added to it.  It was her own little stress reliever but when her purse was returned after being stolen and the notebook was missing, she realized that she may end up in trouble.  She was contacted by an unscrupulous man who threatened to take the notebook to the police.  After he threatened her, her life began to change but she still wanted her husband dead and to enjoy the rest of her life.

Stephen King needs no introduction.  His books have been popular since he started writing over four decades ago.  In The Fifth Step, we get a fantastic story based on the fifth step of AA - to admit their wrongs to another person.   Harold, a retired engineer is sitting on a park bench in Central Park when he is joined by Jack.  He didn't know Jack and was reluctant to share his space but when Jack started talking he reluctantly listened to Jack's story about the mistakes that he'd made in his life due to alcohol.  What happens after that is a real roller coaster.

Joyce Carol Oates is an award-winning novelist and her short story in this book is called Parole Hearing, California Institution for Women, Chino, CA.  It's told by a woman who has been a prisoner for 51 years and is the oldest woman in the prison.  She has been turned down for parole fifteen times and explains why she should be paroled this time. It is quickly evident that her reasoning is very skewed.

Find the time to pick up this book to read these three stories along with short stories from 17 other authors.
It's an enjoyable collection and you might find new authors to enjoy when you read their short stories.

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina with her husband of over 50 years.  She grew up in Michigan but now calls North Carolina home. She enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her family. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and historical fiction. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on Facebook.

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