New York – one of my favourite cities. I’m rather partial to the USA – primarily the bits between the big cities, having clocked up a total of 24 states visited so far, mostly by road, but New York (and Chicago) has always charmed me. I spent a very pleasant few days while Mrs Puzzle Doctor was at a conference just walking around the city.
So it was a pleasure to receive a copy of Manhattan Mayhem from Quirk Books, a collection of new short stories from the Mystery Writers of America, celebrating 70 years of being founded in, yes, New York. Seventeen short tales of intrigue with precise settings around Manhattan from writers such as Lee Child, Jeffrey Deaver and the editor, Mary Higgins Clark.
OK, before I launch into the review, a warning. I’m not convinced that I would call any of these stories a “mystery”. Twisty thrillers, yes, but not mysteries. Even those tales with whodunit elements aren’t mysteries in my book, as we are basically told who the killer is. I’m not saying that this is a bad thing, but it’s just a warning in case you’re one of my regular readers who has been binging on my Golden Age reviews recently.
So, what about these stories? As with any set of short stories, the quality varies, but they are all very well written. The plotting is a little predictable in a few of them, but the few are outweighed by the many good ones. My favourites were probably White Rabbit by Julie Hyzy (must get round to reading that White House Chef cosy that’s been sitting on my shelf for a while) concerning the statue of Alice in Central Park; Chin Yong-Yun Makes a Shiddach by S J Rozan, concerning a kidnapping in Chinatown and The Baker Of Bleecker Street by the twist-master himself, Jeffrey Deaver, concerning wartime espionage. The complete stand-out tale though is Trapped! by blog-favourite Ben H Winters, concerning an off-Broadway production of Deathtrap by Ira Levin, a play about a play about a murder. And as this story is written a play script, that makes it a play about a play about a play about a murder. With an actual murder thrown in.
So, if short stories are your sort of thing, you could do an awful lot worse than check out this collection. Well Worth A Look.