Picks and Pans Review: Murder for Love
Mystery buffs couldn't ask for a sweeter Valentine's treat than these murder-minded love stories, commissioned for this collection from the créme de la crime: Elmore Leonard (contributing his first short fiction in more than 30 years), Mary (and her daughter Carol) Higgins Clark, Ed McBain, Joyce Carol Oates, Bobbie Ann Mason, Sara Paretsky, Anne Perry, William J. Caunitz and seven others. Tempting as a heart-shaped sampler of Belgian chocolates, they're rich, sinful and spiked with surprises.
The 16 tidbits here, deftly introduced by Edgar Award-winning crime connoisseur Otto Penzler, founder of the Mysterious Press, offer twisty tales of romance gone awry. Despite their brevity, the best offerings in this anthology pack as much plot, character and pungent atmosphere as many novels. For instance, "Red Clay," by novelist and Emmy-winning One Life to Live writer Michael Ma-lone, about a movie star and accused murderess, takes its film-noir story across two continents and as many decades.
James Crumley, legendary among mysterians for his hard-boiled P.I. novel The Last Good Kiss, serves up equally memorable action in his love-on-the-lam tale "Hot Springs." And the heroine of Leonard's "Karen Makes Out," a feisty federal marshal who finds herself falling for a guy whose next landlord might be the State of Florida, demands, at the very least, an encore. Same time, next year? (Delacorte, $19.95)