Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Mammoth Book of Best British Mysteries 8, edited by Maxim Jakubowski

After quite some time, I'm finally finished with this anthology. This is not because it was a drag--quite the contrary. It's just that they don't call it 'mammoth' for nothing. And I don't really like to race through a short story collection.

I haven't been much of a mystery anthology reader in the past, nor had I really gotten all that tuned into mystery short stories. I'm not sure why, they just seemed abrupt in relation to the novels I usually read. But several people I know to one degree or another through the blogosphere actually had stories in this one, and I was more than eager to grab a copy. I am awfully glad I did.  In addition to the fine work of my virtual pals and acquaintances, Gerard Brennan, Paul D. Brazill, Declan Burke, Nigel Bird, and Jay Stringer, you've got bestseller types like Ian Rankin and Kate Atkinson, and many people who've work I know of but hadn't yet gotten a chance to read, like  David Hewson and Stephen Booth and and Christopher Brookmyre. And then known favorites like Colin Bateman and Simon Brett.

The scope of the book is vast--from cozy to seriously twisted (I'm looking at you, Mr. Brennan) and ranges from the historical to the contemporarily topical. One of my favorites of the book is the strange and initially disorienting 'As God Made Us', by A. L. Kennedy. Seriously, though, there isn't a rotten apple in the barrel.

One thing I did miss in this collection was any sort of contributor notes. The book does cite where the story was originally published and of course there's always the internet, but  after you read a story you like it's always nice to be able to look in back and find out a little bit more about who they are.

It's a quibble though. Pick up a copy of this fine volume and enjoy it at your leisure. You'll find great storytelling and a whole list of authors you want to read more of. 


  1. Glad you enjoyed it. A great mixed bunch.I'd read a few of them before. Declan Burke's & Denis Mina's were really powerful and Colin Bateman's was truly 'lol', as the young people say..

  2. This is an outstanding collection which doesn't get anywhere near the attention it deserves. I see Paul Ds posted - his story's a cracker and not one to miss.
    Thanks for taking the time,


  3. Oh right, Denise Mina's was a stunner as well.

    And you two must have been brothers in a past life--a really bad past life.

    I work in a bookstore, so I can at least promote it here. Unlike some British books, it is available in the U.S., which is very fortunate for us.

  4. Can't remember if you 'do' ebooks Seana, but if you do, Nigel's story in this collection has spun into a great novella called Smoke:


  5. I have a Kindle reader downloaded on to my computer for just such purposes, Paul, so thanks for the lead. Short stories are a lot more suitable for reading on the computer than novels so this should work.

  6. Yeah, I have the same thing on my lap top. Short stories and novellas are fine. Longer stuff is a bit of pain though and I tend to put off reading them.

  7. Ditto. The ones I've gotten through Smashwords I've ended up printing out halfway through.

    I'd break down and buy a kindle since the basic ones are now only $79, but I have conflicted feelings about it working in an indie book store.