by Gloria Feit
After spending the last several days at Left Coast Crime I didn’t manage to make it to the movies this weekend so instead of a movie review we are treating you to a review of a New York Mystery anthology. Grab a cup of coffee or tea & enjoy!
Although short stories are not usually my preferred reading choice, this anthology proved to be perfect for this time of year when so many of us are overloaded with the demands and hecticness of another holiday and Spring Break, and ready for short bursts of good writing. A group of twenty-two authors, some whose work is published here for the first time and others who are award-nominated or award-winning writers, combined for this mixture of genres and the second such anthology written by members of the Sisters in Crime NY/Tri-State Chapter, the unifying theme being the various neighborhoods in and around New York City. Those encompass such diverse areas as Gerritsen Beach in Brooklyn and its neighbor, Brighton Beach; Greenwich Village; downtown Manhattan; and College Point, Queens, among several other sections and towns in what is known as the “greater metropolitan area.”
There is one lone entry authored by a man [k.j.a. (Kenneth) Wishnia]. I had initially thought – mistakenly – that there was only one with a male protagonist, but then realized that over a third of the stories have male narrators/protagonists. Lest any reader be concerned that the points-of-view might feel monolithic, they not only range in age and class, but also in gender, even including one inanimate-object as narrator for people who want variety from the usual human POV.
The tales run from eight to twenty pages in length, and vary widely, though each is worthwhile reading, dealing with characters ranging from a vampire; a widow whose long-buried secret is about to be exposed; a young woman with a scary stepson, in what is perhaps a cliché in reverse; and although most of the protagonists are fairly young, there are an 84-year-old and two centenarians included. I especially enjoyed Catherine Maiorisi’s first published story, “Justice for All,” of a young African-American detective, Cappy Jones, who draws the short straw in partnering up with a misogynistic male cop in an investigation into the death of a young Asian woman on a path adjacent to the Hudson River; Triss Stein’s “The Greenmarket Violinist,” included in which is a tribute to a place dear to this reader’s heart: “a spot sacred to all true Brooklynites . . . the original home of the team that became the Brooklyn Dodgers and was managed by the original Mr. Ebbets himself;” as well as Liz Zelvin’s miniature addition to her wonderful “Death Will . . . “ series, this one entitled “Death Will Tank Your Fish,” not, from the title, obviously dealing with recovering alcoholics, but which turns out to be just that.
All in all, these short stories provide very enjoyable reading, and the anthology is recommended.