*** The Five Dollar Dress – Mary Higgins Clark
A young woman, looking through her deceased grandmother’s things, makes an unsavory discovery regarding an old crime. It’s not bad, but I expected a bit more. The writing style felt a bit clunky and overly-straightforward (“She did this. Then she did that.”) In addition, the way the eventual ‘discovery’ was presented felt too easy, leaving a detection-loving reader feeling a bit cheated.
** White Rabbit – Julie Hyzy
This one started off playing into one rather-tired trope, and then ‘twisted’ into a different, but equally-tired trope. At Central Park’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ statue, a young woman reading is approached by a pushy and annoying young man who insists on making small talk. But what are the real reasons either of these two are there, on this particular day?
*** The Picture of the Lonely Diner – Lee Child
Brief piece featuring Child’s popular character, Jack Reacher. It’s not bad – it does an especially nice job conjuring up Madison Square Park – but I found the interaction between Reacher and an FBI agent he encounters to be a bit unbelievable (why on earth would she be so forthcoming?) Overall, I think readers who are already familiar with the books in this series would probably appreciate it more.
*** Three Little Words – Nancy Pickard
A doctor tells a young woman that unfortunately, her cancer is terminal, and suggests that she make a ‘bucket list.’ However, just a few days after her diagnosis, the woman is violently murdered. Whodunnit? The story gets a lot of suspects into a limited amount of pages, but I finished it feeling like I’d been ‘led around’ by the author just a bit too much.
*** Damage Control – Thomas H. Cook
A man’s former foster child is found dead of an apparent suicide. The tragic death leads him back to consider the reasons why he kicked her out of his house. Were they justified? The story does a nice job of illustrating how different perspectives on the same facts can lead people to come to very different conclusions.
*** The Day After Victory – Brendan DuBois
WWII has just ended, and a street sweeper cleaning up after the victory parade has a chance encounter with a man waiting on the street – or is it really a chance meeting?
*** Serial Benefactor – Jon L. Breen
An elderly man tells his young granddaughter about an old mystery he’s tried to solve. Back in his day, when he was a Broadway actor, a serial killer was offing some of the more reprehensible characters on the theater scene – and he suspected it was someone he knew. Not bad, but not terribly memorable, either.
**** Trapped! – Ben H. Winters
This is the one I picked up the collection for – after reading Winters’ ‘Last Policeman’ books I was interested in checking out more of his writing.
I was a little surprised to find this is a humorous piece about Broadway theater – but it was quite good. That said, I feel I would’ve enjoyed it even more if I’d ever read or seen Deathtrap! (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deathtr…)
I suspect that real theatrical insiders would find it even more hilarious.
*** Wall St. Rodeo – Angela Zeman
In an old-timey New York, an unprincipled con man tries to take advantage of a young Irish boy, in hopes of securing a fortune. But things don’t quite work out the way he hopes. A fun and heartwarming little tale.
*** Copycats – N.J. Ayres
Nice period feel to this one… probably the best piece of writing in the book so far. This long story introduces us to a group of young men from the Lower East Side to are deployed in WWII together. Their wartime experiences change them, and afterward, they go in different directions. One becomes a cop… but others take other roads.
*** Red-Headed Stepchild – Margaret Maron
Woe betide those who cut a girl’s hair against her wishes…
** Sutton Death Overtime – Judith Kelman
At a mystery writer’s group attended by an obnoxious journalist, one writer divulges the plot of her next true-crime novel. But why would she ‘give away’ so many details? I felt like the ending was supposed to be an emotional kicker, but it didn’t really work for me.
*** Dizzy & Gillespie – Persia Walker
Conflict between long-time residents and a new neighbor in a dilapidated Harlem townhouse takes an unexpectedly heartbreaking twist. Well-crafted, but very, very sad.
*** Me & Mikey – T. Jefferson Parker
Hard-boiled and no punches pulled. This is a tale of two brothers in a Mafia family. It feels very cinematic (not really like a true ‘insider’s’ perspective), but I think it works pretty well.
*** Evermore – Justin Scott
Time-travelling Edgar Allan Poe and an on-the-lam bank robber pull off a heist together. Silly, but rather funny.
*** Chin Yong-Yun Makes a Shiddach – S.J. Rozan
Heartwarming cozy about a Chinese mom with hidden depths that neither her Private Investigator daughter nor her lawyer son guess at.
** The Baker of Bleecker St. – Jeffery Deaver
Fascist spies on the LES during WWII. I didn’t really connect with any of the characters, and I thought the ‘patriotic’ content came off as sappy rather than inspiring.
Overall – there were some decent stories here, but the collection didn’t live up to my expectations overall. Those expectations were fairly high, considering the ‘Mystery Writers of America’ stamp of approval. In general, I think this is a genre that tends to be more successful in a longer format.
Many thanks to Quirk books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read in exchange for an honest review.