Wednesday, June 08, 2016

When Mary Higgins Clark Edits the Stories ... and Lee Child and Thomas Cook (and More!) Join Her in Writing Them

In 2015, Mystery Writers of America celebrated its 70th birthday. For the occasion, a leader of 20th-century mystery writing, Mary Higgins Clark, brought together and edited a collection of new stories set in MWA's own city: MANHATTAN MAYHEM. Not only are the stories lively, quirky, and wonderfully clever, but they are accompanied by classic photos of the city neighborhoods where they take place, from Chinatown to Hell's Kitchen to the Empire State Building's own district, as well as Harlem, Wall Street, Little Italy, and more. The Flatiron Building has its own photo -- it has a starring and romantic role in a Jack Reacher story that showcases the tough generosity of one of my favorite mythic characters, the man Clark calls "Lee Child's drifting modern warrior."

The great news for this week is, Quirk Books just released a paperback edition of MANHATTAN MAYHEM. Bookended by a story from Mary Higgins Clark, "The Five-Dollar Dress," and another from Jeffrey Deaver (World War II espionage, who would have guessed?) called "The Baker of Bleecker Street," the authors also include Nancy Pickard, Julie Hyzy, Lee Child, Thomas H. Cook, Brendan DuBois, Jon L. Breen, Ben H. Winters, Angela Zeman, N. J. Ayres, Margaret Maron, Judith Kelman, Persia Walker, T. Jefferson Parker, Justin Scott, and S. J. Rozan.

At least four of the stories in here suit my taste so well that I would have bought the collection for those alone -- and it's not just the fun of sampling these fine writers in short form that makes the book sing, but also the way each one creates a different way to pace the challenging form that encapsulates a crime, a character worth caring about, and an unexpected but satisfying resolution.

If you're looking for a summer reading choice that can be savored in short bits of time before you nod into a nap on the hammock or beach chair (or late in the evening after the work's done), here's a prime candidate. MANHATTAN MAYHEM is both a reader's and a viewer's delight, and MWA was brilliant in choosing Mary Higgins Clark to pull it together.

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