The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime 8 by Maxim Jakubowski
|The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime 8 by Maxim Jakubowski|
|Reviewer: Robert James|
|Summary: Hit and miss collection which features enough really good stories to be worth taking a look at, but might have been better with a few less contributions.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 528||Date: April 2011|
|Publisher: Robinson Publishing|
The latest in the annual series of short story collections edited by Maxim Jakubowski gives readers a wide range of stories from authors as diverse as the much-acclaimed Ian Rankin and Kate Atkinson, newwcomers such as Nigel Bird and Jay Stringer, and father and son combination Peter and Phil Lovesey.
At just over forty stories, no one could accuse Jakubowski of a misleading title – this is definitely mammoth! Packed inside it are some of the best known crime writers currently active on these shores, with Ian Rankin's long-awaited Rebus return, The Very Last Drop, probably being the highlight in terms of anticipation, at least to those of us who didn't catch it when it was originally published on the Royal Blind website to raise money for the charity. There's no doubt that this is one of the best stories in the collection – it's intriguingly plotted and has a great resolution despite being very short – but my personal favourite would be Simon Kernick's Robert Hayer's Dead. Kernick is fast becoming the crime writer I most anticipate new work from and this is exceptional, featuring a tormented father, a terrified child, and a stunning twist. Other standouts for me include a pair of authors I hadn't previously encountered, Mick Herron whose Dolphin Junction is absolutely ingenious and very well written, and Stuart MacBride whose The Ballad of Manky Milne, which starts with the title character up to his neck in a septic tank, is incredibly entertaining. I think both Manky Milne, and the protagonist of Gerard Brennan's Hard Rock, may be a little too over the top for some readers but thought that the humour of both stories shone through well despite the level of violence.
Having said that, there are a significant number in the collection which did rather little for me – Allan Guthrie's The Turnip Farm, which starts with a man making love to some turnips and somehow goes downhill, was a particular offender but at least stood out, even if it was for the wrong reason. Looking at six or seven of the others, I can't remember which was which from the first few lines because they were so unmemorable, and I wonder whether Jakubowski should have tried for more consistently high quality by slimming the book down a little. Given there's a fair few lesser known authors here as well, I also think it's a shame not to have included any biographical details or information about the authors before the individual stories, instead just having a one page introduction by the editor.
Still, since the cover price works out at less than 20p a story, and all crime fans will surely find an absolute minimum of a dozen or so they enjoy, it's worthy of a recommendation to genre lovers.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
Further reading suggestion: For a more consistently excellent selection of crime stories I highly recommend A New Omnibus of Crime by Tony Hillerman (Editor) and Rosemary Herbert (Editor).
You can read more book reviews or buy The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime 8 by Maxim Jakubowski at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime 8 by Maxim Jakubowski at Amazon.com.
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