The Best American Mystery Stories 2011
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The Best American Mystery Stories 2011 (The Best American Mystery Stories)

3.44 of 5 stars 3.44  ·  rating details  ·  313 ratings  ·  50 reviews
The Best American Series(R)
First, Best, and Best-Selling
The Best American series is the premier annual showcase for the country's finest short fiction and nonfiction. Each volume's series editor selects notable works from hundreds of magazines, journals, and websites. A special guest editor, a leading writer in the field, then chooses the best twenty or so pieces to publi...more
ebook, 412 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published October 4th 2011)
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I am a fan of both short stories and mysteries, so The Best American Mystery Stories 2011 was bound to pique my curiosity. This year’s collection was edited by Harlan Coben, so I knew this would be a good set of stories.

Surprisingly, I think my favorite story was The End of the String by Charles McCarry. This story involves an American in Ndala who becomes involved with a military man wishing to overthrow the president. This is not a topic I would normally seek out, but what a storyteller! I was...more
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out
The Best American Mystery Stories are an annual anthology that publishes a selection of tales published in magazines an anthologies during the year. Each year a guest editor is chosen who determines from a list of about 50 submissions, their favourite 20 stories to be included. Harlan Coben is this years editor and as a fan of his books I was interested to read his choices.
The Best American Mystery Stories 2011 has great variety and I was more than impressed with the overall quality. Of the twen...more
A good batch this year - I read these every year to find stories for Thrilling Tales, so I'm reading with a focus on more inherently clear and satisfying stories - and Coben has a fair number of these. I've been wanting to do a Brendan DuBois story in the storytime for some years now, and I think "Ridealong" is finally one that will work w/ the format, as there are some very good twists. Less certain about risking a story co-written by Tom Franklin ("What His Hands had been Waiting For") about t...more
This collection was much better than the 2007 Best Short Stories anthology. I had high hopes after reading this line in Harlan Coben's introduction: "[these authors} have taken Elmore Leonard's credo and fed it steroids and raised it to the tenth power and then driven it out to a dive bar by the airport and given it an unlimited tab." Oh yeah.

One of the editors, Otto Penzler, makes a point to explain that these stories are not typical mysteries. As long as a story has elements of a crime, it qua...more
The Best American Mystery Stories of 2011 edited by Harlan Coben and Otto Penzler is the 15th edition of this very popular anthology. I look forward to it every year, so I gave a little fist pump when I was able to snag an advance reader’s copy from the publisher. As usual, this is an excellent collection of stories by new-to-me authors and some old favorites. Read the rest of my review at
It's hard to give a rating to a short story anthology. Nevertheless, overall this was a solid collection of stories. Some "old favorite" and familiar authors are represented but I especially like that I can "try out" new authors easily in this format.

For new-to-me writing, I especially liked Brock Adams' "Audacious" and Ernest Finney's "A Crime of Opportunity" and will be looking for more from these authors.
Chris Cosci
As with many anthologies, this collection is a mixed bag -- a bit disappointing given the title. Obviously such a collection is going to be based on subjective decisions. However, I've read other collections in this series and don't recall such an imbalance of quality.

Many will complain that most of these stories don't fit the mold of your typical "mystery." And while the foreword does an admirable job of setting the reader up for this, some of the stories included here are just too far removed...more
I gave it such a bad rating because I just couldn't even continue it. I read the first several stories and they just weren't for me. I was either bored reading them or didn't like the endings or whatever. I could see that some people may enjoy the book but like I said, it just wasn't for me. I will definitely give a book of short stories another try though because I like the idea.
2/5 in the literal meaning of the ratings here: It was ok.

Contemporary crime stories really aren't my thing. It might be this particular selection, but it seems like the american mystery story isn't my style either. While it's obvious that a short story collection is going to be varied in quality, I couldn't fully enjoy even the best of these in this book. There's always something holding them back - either poor narration, or ridiculous amounts of misoginy (I swear, rape or some other sort of as...more
Bruce Snell
This is a collection of short stories printed in various periodicals during 2011, and edited by Harlan Coben. I enjoyed this collection. I try to read a short story between novels to clear my mind and make myself ready for the next book. I can honestly say that several of these stories did not let me clear my mind - they stuck with me, forcing me to think about them in depth and I can't ask for more from any story than that.

Notes on a few stories that are worth thinking about:

Audacious - a comp...more
This collection is a pile of crap that Harlan Coben needs to be ashamed of. None of these stories are worth the time it took to read them, let alone compile as the "Best of the Year".

As usual with "mystery" compilations now, there is not a mystery to be had in the entire book so don't expect detection or even a police procedural. This is really a collection of short fiction occupied with violence.
Even judged solely as a collection of short fiction this volume seriously under-performs. Several o...more
Andrew Neal
There are some really great stories in here. Like it says in the introduction, these tend to be more about the characters than about actual mysteries, and that's just dandy with me.

Not all the stories were great, but I really enjoyed:

Audacious by Brock Adams: I thought I was going to dismiss it as an emotionally manipulative heartstrings-yanker, but this one had moments of real truth in the way the characters behaved, and that may be what I enjoy most in writing.

The Stars are Falling by Joe Lans...more
Many of the stories aren't whodunnit mysteries in the traditional sense. Instead, they make the reader wonder what in hell is going on, which then constitutes a mystery. I particularly enjoyed Charles McCarry’s "The End of the String," S. J. Rozan’s "Chin Yong-Yun Takes a Case" and Lawrence Block’s "Clean Slate." Dennis McFadden's "Diamond Alley" didn't live up to the hype and a couple of other stories plodded along, which is why I didn't give this book all five stars.

Looking forward to purchase...more
Elizabeth B
Like any anthologies, this one is either a hit or miss depending on the type of writing you like. Each year holds promise for a reader to find something they enjoy and this one is no exception. The variety of stories should allow everyone to find at least one story that appeals to them. As a whole, however, I found this book to be less than stellar. While some stories did garner my interest the majority seemed predictable and flat which isn't what one would expect from a best of the year series....more
Reader Gal
If you have never read this series of short mystery stories, what a great time you'll have finally reading this book. This is an outstanding collection (as usual) of short stories that you won't find anywhere else.

From hit men to an old Chinese mama solving a kidnapping, there is enough variety to appeal to every reader.

Starting in 1997, this series has a new guest editor every year, with a constant series editor, Otto Penzler, manning the helm. The guest editor is always a well-known mystery wr...more
A few of these stories seem to be more chilling fiction than true mystery, but they are brilliant at that! Especially loved A Long Time Dead, Diamond Alley, and the quirky Last Cottage.
Wonderful collection of mystery stories. This is my first foray I into this collection series. I will go back and try the rest.
Kelly Wagner
My biggest complaint is that far too many of these stories are NOT MYSTERIES. They may be noir, they may involve a crime being committed - but it's not a mystery unless there's a mystery to be solved! And many of these stories don't have that element. There are elaborate descriptions of crimes being committed - but no question of who is doing it, and no one outside the crime trying to find out about it. As far as I'm concerned, those crime stories should not be considered mysteries. Unless someh...more
I'm giving this three stars as a book of crime-related short stories. Very few of the stories are what I would consider to be mysteries.

Like many anthologies, some stories are very good, while others are mediocre. Standouts for me were "Audacious" by Brock Adams, "Clean Slate" by Lawrence Block, "Ride-Along" by Brendan Dubois, "A Crime of Opportunity" by Ernest J. Finney, "Flying Solo" by Ed Gorman, "The Hitter" by Chris F. Holm, "The Stars are Falling" by Joe R. Lansdale, and "A Long Time Dead...more
This series should be called "The Best American Violent Stories by Men". Mostly good-quality writing and original premises but too much gratuitous brutality against women and children. (Do we really need a lingering description of every nude prostituted woman who is being raped by the villain or slapped around by the so-called hero, etc.) I had to skip several stories for that reason. S.J. Rozan's female amateur detective was a breath of fresh air. I have enjoyed other entries in this series but...more
Excellent volume of short mysteries, as was The Best American Short Stories, 2011, edited by Geraldine Brooks. The contents of each is very varied, and the writing universally superb. Rather than try to describe any one story, I will quietly recommend the short story as a sometimes-underrated format. Personally, after beginning a collection, I find that they hold my interest for hours, one after the other, like a hypnotic. Especially good for long stretches of reading.
Vince Darcangelo

Brock Adams, "Audacious"

Dennis McFadden, "Diamond Alley" (Go Pirates!)

Lawrence Block, "Clean Slate"

David Corbett and Luis Alberto Urrea, "Who Stole My Monkey?"

Loren D. Estleman, "Sometimes a Hyena"

Ed Gorman, "Flying Solo"

Harry Hunsicker, "West of Nowhere"

Joe R. Landsdale, "The Stars Are Falling"

Andrew Riconda, "Heart Like a Balloon"

Brendan Dubois, "Ride-Along"

Chris F. Holm, "The Hitter"
I mostly liked this collection, a couple of stories I really, really liked, a few I didn't care much for, and one I found disturbing. I do question, though, what makes a few of these stories part of the "mystery" collection rather than simply the short stories collection. The presence of some sort of crime appears to be a qualifier, but some really didn't seem to be mystery stories, as I would define them.
I was just going to skim the titles in the table of contents and put it back on the shelf, but the terrific pieces in this great little collection just pounced on me. Stand outs include the overwhelming, bittersweet noir 'Baby Killer,' by Richard Lange, and 'Last Cottage' by Christopher Merkner. (The author's notes for both these stories are definitely worth reading.)
Like a moth drawn to a light, I couldn't help signing this book out from the local library on my e-reader. I don't like short stories, never read one that I have enjoyed. But Harlan Coben stuck his name to it, so it must be ok I thought. I read the first two and that was enough. Note to self: Don't take out any more short story books
Definitely a collection that's more about crime and violence than it is about mystery, but that's an accurate reflection of where the genre's going right now - Golden Age puzzlers are definitely giving way to a noir-influenced exploration of moral ambiguity. Highlights here for me include "Audacious" and "Flying Solo."
Like any anthology, there are some real gems in here. A few weren't my cup of tea, but that's to be expected. (view spoiler) Overall, I'm really pleased that I spent the 99 cents at the Kindle store to read this one.
Jonathan Worlde
One of the annual collections, along with Best of American Crime Reporting, that I read each year. Always a few nuggets to be found, and culled from publications that I wouldn't otherwise know about. I was happy to also just find a used copy of the collection from 2004 to add to the pile.
some really good stories in this year's collection! I especially enjoyed "Chin Yong-Yun Takes a Case", "A Long Time Dead", "The Stars Are Falling", and "The Hitter". This collection never fails to impress, and although they aren't all true mysteries, there is always some high quality writing.
to me a "mystery" conjures up a "whodunnit" type thing. very few of these were that. these were more thrillers or suspense or really just fiction. some of them were very good. and some i had to skip because they were super boring. par for the course with these collections i guess.
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With over 50 million books in print worldwide, Harlan Coben’s last six consecutive novels, SIX YEARS, STAY CLOSE, LIVE WIRE, CAUGHT, LONG LOST and HOLD TIGHT all debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and lists around the world. His first Young Adult novel SHELTER was just released in paperback, and the second in the Mickey Bolitar series, SECONDS AWAY, was released on September 18th....more
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