THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST BRITISH CRIME - ed by Maxim Jakubowski
Leading editor and reviewer Maxim Jakubowski has compiled another beguiling collection of the year's best new short crime fiction from the UK. Ian Rankin's perennially popular Edinburgh cop, Inspector Rebus, makes an unexpected comeback in a short but intriguing story 'The Very Last Drop', and the collection closes with another Rankin story 'Driven'.
Mammoth by name, mammoth by nature - this collection has 42 stories in total, many of which come from well-known names, with a good sprinkling of new and emerging writers. Exactly the sort of thing short story fans would be looking for.
Preferring the darker side of the genre, there was lots to satisfy this reader in this collection, but there's also entries from the lighter side - how could there not be with writers like Alexander McCall Smith. In this collection you'll find a couple of entries by Ian Rankin and Peter Lovesey and others from Mick Herron, Denise Mina, Edward Marston, Marilyn Todd, Kate Atkinson, Stuart MacBride, David Hewson, Alexander McCall Smith, Nigel Bird, Robert Barnard, Lin Anderson, Allan Guthrie, A.L. Kennedy, Simon Kernick, Roz Southey, Andrew Taylor, Sheila Quigley, Declan Burke, Keith McCarthy, Christopher Brookmyre, Gerard Brennan, Matthew J. Elliott, Colin Bateman, Ray Banks, Simon Brett, Adrian Magson, Jay Stringer, Amy Myers, Nick Quantrill, Stephen Booth, Paul Johnston, Zoe Sharp, Paul D. Brazill, Louise Welsh, Liza Cody, Peter Turnbull and Nicholas Royle. You can probably imagine with a lineup like that, just how good each of these stories is to have been included. The range is wide, the subject and handling different, and frankly, this is just a terrific collection.
Just a quick warning - a few stories in this collection are duplicated in the little collection CRIMESPOTTING I read a while ago. No big deal - they were all well worth reading a second time.
CRIMESPOTTING - Introduced by Irvine Welsh
All the short stories here are brand new, specially commissioned and from a unique mix of bestselling crime writers. Each author was asked for a story which features a crime and is set in Edinburgh. The results range from hard-boiled police procedural to historical whodunit and from the wildly comic to the spookily supernatural.
I think I'll just keep saying this until I run out of breath completely - but really, the world needs more quality collections of Crime Short Stories. CRIMESPOTTING, a fabulous little volume put together as a fund raiser for The ONECITY Trust, is subtitled "An Edinburgh Crime Collection". It features stories by lesser and well known authors including (in alphabetical order) Lin Anderson, Kate Atkinson, Margaret Atwood, Christopher Brookmyre, John Burnside, Isla Dewar, A.L. Kennedy, Denise Mina, Ian Rankin and James Robertson. (There are some stories here which go on to be included in the Mammoth Book of Best British Crime which I'm going to mention in a review soonish). The requirement for inclusion was that the story included a "crime" and was set in Edinburgh. The results are remarkedly diverse.
Needless to say I've been reading a few short story collections recently. Mostly because I find them such a fascinating form of writing, although I also find them almost invaluable for filling in the dreaded "waiting time" that seems to go with life these days. One thing I'm increasingly becoming aware of is that a really really good short story can't be as easy to write as you would think. A Crime short story in particular still has to provide a reader with some of the elements of the genre that you expect - a crime / investigation / resolution / explanation / consideration / illumination and so on.
What was immediately obvious in CRIMESPOTTING is that there is an incredibly high standard of story-telling in each of these entries - although there are obviously also absolute standout entries. To be honest I'd have a bit of trouble voting for my specific favourite as a lot of them appealed immensely. Luckily, there's probably something for fans of all sorts of different sub-genres.
For this reader, CRIMESPOTTING (and The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime for that matter) really were a master class in short story reading. Good enough to go back and reread many of the entries, CRIMESPOTTING became a permanent resident of the car glovebox a while ago. It will head back there after this review has been written as flicking back through the book there's a couple of entries I'd like to read again.