Wednesday, 22 November 2017

CWA Anthology of Short Stories: Mystery Tour - review

I am delighted to be today's stop on the blog tour for The CWA Anthology of Short Stories: Mystery Tour. The book was published by Orenda Books on 15 November 2017, Read my review...

The CWA Anthology of Short Stories: Mystery Tour
Published by Orenda Books (15 November 2017)
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher.

Publisher's description
Crime spreads across the globe in this new collection of short stories from the Crime Writer’s Association, as a conspiracy of prominent crime authors take you on a world mystery tour. Highlights of the trip include a treacherous cruise to French Polynesia, a horrifying trek in South Africa, a murderous train-ride across Ukraine and a vengeful killing in Mumbai. But back home in the UK, life isn’t so easy either. Dead bodies turn up on the backstreets of Glasgow, crime writers turn words into deeds at literary events, and Lady Luck seems to guide the fate of a Twickenham hood. Showcasing the range, breadth and vitality of the contemporary crime-fiction genre, these twenty-eight chilling and unputdownable stories will take you on a trip you’ll never forget.

Contributions from:
Ann Cleeves, C.L. Taylor, Susi Holliday, Martin Edwards, Anna Mazzola, Carol Anne Davis, Cath Staincliffe, Chris Simms, Christine Poulson, Ed James, Gordon Brown, J.M. Hewitt, Judith Cutler, Julia Crouch, Kate Ellis, Kate Rhodes, Martine Bailey, Michael Stanley, Maxim Jakubowski, Paul Charles, Paul Gitsham, Peter Lovesey, Ragnar Jónasson, Sarah Rayne, Shawn Reilly Simmons, Vaseem Khan, William Ryan and William Burton McCormick 

My verdict
When diving into a short story collection, I am often reminded of a box of chocolates crammed full of sweet treats. Which one do I try first? Do I go with my usual favourites? Do I go for an author I've never read before? Do I read the stories in a logical order, working my way down the list? Or do I jump into the centre, picking and choosing as I fancy?

Oh decisions, decisions...

On picking up the CWA Anthology of Short Stories: Mystery Tour, I decided to follow the natural journey of the book, starting at the beginning and reading straight towards the finish line. After all, this is a 'mystery tour' so I figured I may as well head into the unknown.

The book contains contributions by an impressive A to Z of some top crime authors, starting with Ann Cleeves' perfectly placed and brilliant The Queen of Mystery (set in the world of crime fiction conventions) and ending with William Ryan's dark and tense The Spoils (about a wronged woman). Although I had come across quite a few of the authors before, several were new to me - and I may never have discovered their talents if I hadn't picked up this book.

The stories are very varied, in length, voice, setting and subject matter. I paused between them, reflecting on what I had just read, before embarking on the next stage in my journey - through the chilling and haunting Snowbird by Kate Rhodes to the cleverly plotted No Way Back by JM Hewitt and the very twisted A Slight Change of Plan by Susi Holliday. Ragnar Jonasson's A Postcard from Iceland is one of the shortest stories yet packs a powerful punch. And Christine Poulson's Accounting for Murder, consisting of a series of letters, receipts and other documents, is very clever and highly memorable. The locations are varied too - some set in the UK, others much further afield.

The CWA Anthology of Short Stories is a great stocking filler or birthday present - although you can also just treat yourself. This is an excellent collection of high quality crime stories, ranging from psychological thrillers to crime scene investigations, providing something for everyone - and the chance to get out of your usual 'crime reads' comfort zone.

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