The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime 7, by Maxim Jakubowski (editor)

>> Wednesday, April 08, 2015

TITLE: The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime 7
AUTHOR: Maxim Jakubowski (editor), and many, many authors (see below)

COPYRIGHT: 2010
PAGES: 544
PUBLISHER: C&R Crime

SETTING: Varies
TYPE: Varies, all have something to do with crime, but not all are traditional mysteries
SERIES: Many of the stories are part of series

The must-have annual anthology for every crime fiction fan - the year's top new British short stories selected by leading crime critic Maxim Jakubowski.This great annual covers the full range of mystery fiction, from noir and hardboiled crime to ingenious puzzles and amateur sleuthing. Packed with top names like Colin Dexter, Christopher Fowler, Alexander McCall Smith, Robert Barnard, Peter James, Natasha Cooper, Sophie Hannah, and many more.

The "Mammoth Book of X" are a very popular collection of anthologies. They cover all sorts of topics (Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance, Mammoth Book of Zombies, Mammoth Book of Comic Fantasy, Mammoth Book of Haunted House Stories and so on), and tend to be big bricks containing lots and lots of pretty short stories.

This one sounded like a great idea, and a quick scan of the authors included revealed several names I recognised and had been meaning to try for a while. Unfortunately, once I started reading I was disappointed. I read about a quarter of the stories and was really not impressed by most. There were only 2 which were ok, but even those weren't that great. For the others, reading the short notes I made about them (which I've copied below), I think the best word I can use to describe them is "pointless".

Since this seems to be a collection driven by the editor's taste and I felt this sample gave me enough of an idea of what that taste might be, there really was no point in me continuing to read.

Quick summaries of the stories I read:

MR E. MORSE, BA OXON (FAILED), by Colin Dexter

Colin Dexter's Inspector Morse series is one I've been meaning to read, so I'd hoped this would be a good introduction. It's kind of put me off instead. The case was pointless, the writing opaque and Morse himself didn't come across as a particularly interesting character. Story (failed).


GHOSTS, by John Harvey

PI asked to investigate death of a young man in a fight by the victim's mother; must get culprit's girlfriend to turn on him. Much too short, felt like the executive summary of a story. Not interesting, either. Pointless.


THE BLOOD PEARL, by Barry Maitland

Could have been good, with an exotic and unique setting (people who've been fleeced by a con man get involved in plot to steal pearls from his cultivation grounds in Western Australia).Unfortunately I found the characters completely uninsteresting and unbelievable.


THE COMMON ENEMY, by Natasha Cooper

This one was good. Good characters and really, really sad. Girl hasn't come home from friend's house and her mother goes out to search for her. Not a mystery, though, just the story of a tragedy.


BLOODSPORT, by Tom Cain

Really short story, but I liked it. It has a special forces soldier with a sniper's sight trained on the British Prime Minister. Interesting ideas and well-written. Also quite surprising.


THE RAT IN THE ATTIC, by Brian McGilloway

Not terrible, but quite predictable. Elderly woman accuses her neighbour of running over her cat, and police officer goes talk to him to keep her happy. As soon as the whole thing about the roof having no snow on it was said, it was completely obvious what was going on.


ENOUGH OF THIS SHIT ALREADY, by Tony Black

Bad. Girl kills boy who raped her using Rohypnol. No way were these characters believable schoolkids. Another pointless, much-too-short one.


HOGMANAY HOMICIDE, by Edward Marston

Set in 1906, this story features Dr. Crippen as a detective (yes, the famous murderer; this is not just someone of the same name). The mystery was not at all interesting and I found the idea of having Crippen as hero to be in poor taste, especially because Marston seems to be justifying why he would want to kill his wife some years later.


And a list of the other stories in the anthology.

FRUITS, by Steve Mosby
A PLACE FOR VIOLENCE, by Kevin Wignall
FOUR HUNDRED RABBITS, by Simon Levack
HISTORY!, by Toby Litt
THE MASQUERADE, by Sarah Rayne
TAKE DEATH EASY, by Peter Turnbull
THE PARSON AND THE HIGHWAYMAN, by Judith Cutler
SPECIAL DELIVERY, by Adrian Magson
A BLOW ON THE HEAD, by Peter Lovesey
CHICAGO, by Jon Courtenay Grimwood
THE HOUSE THAT GOT SHOT, by Barbara Nadel
THE OCTOPUS NEST, by Sophie Hannah
WALKING THE DOG, by Peter Robinson
THE VELOCITY OF BLAME, by Christopher Fowler
SOMEONE TAKE THESE DREAMS AWAY, by Marc Werner
ANIMAL INTELLIGENCE, by Alexander McCall Smith
12 BOLINBROKE AVENUE, by Peter James
APPETITE FOR MURDER, by Simon R. Green
THE OTHER HALF, by Mick Herron
SWORD LILIES, by Sally Spedding
LOVE HURTS, by Bill Kirton
FUNERAL WEATHER, by Kate Ellis
A YEAR TO REMEMBER, by Robert Barnard
TIME OF THE GREEN, by Ken Bruen
VIVISECTION, by Bernie Crosthwaite
STAR’S JAR, by Kate Horsley
THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A VICTIMLESS CRIME, by Paul Johnston
AND HERE’S THE NEXT CLUE..., by Amy Myers
FRECKLES, by Allan Guthrie
HAPPY HOLIDAYS, by Val McDermid

MY GRADE: A DNF.

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