The Best American Mystery Stories

A perennial under the Thrilling Detective Christmas tree every year, The Best American Mystery Stories is an annual anthology of mystery stories published in United States magazines and anthologies that comes out every autumn, edited by Otto Penzler and a co-editor who changes every year. It’s established itself as arguably the premier annual collections of the best in crime and detective fiction, drawing its selections from periodicals, collections and anthologies, both print and digital.

But if you want to dig deeper, the history of “best” American mystery short story anthologies can be traced back to 1931, when the one-shot The Best American Mystery Stories of the Year, edited by Carolyn Wells, was published, which was followed by Best Detective Stories of the Year, which was edited by David C. Cooke’s and ran from 1947 to 1959. Other notable attempts to establish an annual series include The Year’s 25 Finest Crime and Mystery Stories, from the editors of Mystery Scene and The World’s Finest Mystery and Crime Stories series, edited by Ed Gorman and Martin H. Greenberg, which ran from 2000-05, which overlapped with Penzler’s The Best American Mystery Stories series.

Penzler’s guest editors tend to be some of the biggest names in crime fiction; a veritable who’s who of bestsellers and critical darlings, and they’ve always been American, until 2018, when the series broke ranks and selected Canadian mystery writer Louise Penny.

The series was started in 1997 with The Best American Mystery Stories 1997 (edited by Penzler and guest editor Robert B. Parker), as part of Houghton Mifflin’s The Best American series, and follows the same procedure with other titles in the series for choosing stories: the series editor (Penzler) picks out about fifty potential stories and the guest editor chooses twenty or or so for publication. The runner-ups (and other noteworthy stories) are listed in the appendix.

  • The Best American Mystery Stories 1997 (Guest editor: Robert B. Parker) Buy this book
  • The Best American Mystery Stories 1998 (Guest editor: Sue Grafton) Buy this book
  • The Best American Mystery Stories 1999 (Guest editor: Ed McBain) Buy this book
  • The Best American Mystery Stories 2000 (Guest editor: Donald Westlake) Buy this book
  • The Best American Mystery Stories 2001 (Guest editor: Lawrence Block) Buy this book
  • The Best American Mystery Stories 2002 (Guest editor: James Ellroy) Buy this book
  • The Best American Mystery Stories 2003 (Guest editor: Michael Connelly) Buy this book
  • The Best American Mystery Stories 2004 (Guest editor: Nelson DeMille) Buy this book
  • The Best American Mystery Stories 2005 (Guest editor: Joyce Carol Oates) Buy this book
  • The Best American Mystery Stories 2006 (Guest editor: Scott Turow) Buy this book
  • The Best American Mystery Stories 2007 (Guest editor: Carl Hiaasen) Buy this book
  • The Best American Mystery Stories 2008 (Guest editor: George Pelecanos) Buy this book
  • The Best American Mystery Stories 2009 (Guest editor: Jeffery Deaver) Buy this book
  • The Best American Mystery Stories 2010 (Guest editor: Lee Child) Buy this book
  • The Best American Mystery Stories 2011 (Guest editor: Harlan Coben) Buy this book Kindle it!
  • The Best American Mystery Stories 2012 (Guest editor: Robert Crais) Buy this book Kindle it!
  • The Best American Mystery Stories 2013 (Guest editor: Lisa Scottoline) Buy this book Kindle it!
  • The Best American Mystery Stories 2014 (Guest editor: Laura Lippman) Buy this book | Kindle it!
  • The Best American Mystery Stories 2015 (Guest editor: James Patterson) Buy this book | Kindle it!
  • The Best American Mystery Stories 2016 (Guest editor: Elizabeth George) Buy this book | Kindle it!
  • The Best American Mystery Stories 2017 (Guest editor: John Sandford) Buy this book | Kindle it!
  • The Best American Mystery Stories  2018 (Guest editor: Louise Penny) Buy this book | Kindle it!

   


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