Manhattan Mayhem edited by Mary Higgins Clark

By Ekta R. Garg

June 17, 2015

Rated: Borrow it

What happens when a group of well-known mystery writers get together? They produce an anthology, of course. Give those writers a theme, and that results in a city tour many guides would envy.

The Mystery Writers of America offers readers its third anthology, this one based in Manhattan. Editor Mary Higgins Clark explains in her introduction that this particular collection has a place close to her heart due to the depth of talent available to her in the writers who elected to participate. She joins those writers along with other well-known names such as Lee Child, and the result gives readers a wide variety of stories.

Like most anthologies, this one contains its fair share of hits and misses. Clark’s own story, “The Five-Dollar Dress” surprises readers with its ending, but the ending feels a little too quick. Other stories, like “White Rabbit” or “The Baker of Bleecker Street” may have readers flipping pages back and forth to reread passages. The authors of these stories resolve the plots with devices that might feel forced or stereotypical.

The stories that hit the mark, however, do it with panache. In Nancy Pickard’s “Three Little Words,” readers know something—or someone—waits in the wings. Pickard takes her time in leading her readers across the stage, however, and readers will enjoy the journey as much as finally pulling back the curtain to discover the end. Despite its moniker as “short story,” Pickard takes her time and readers get to enjoy a story with teeth.

The authors don’t shy away from challenging readers, whether by unconventional storylines or endings that leave some doubt. Thomas H. Cook convinces readers in “Damage Control” that a foster father made the right decision to send back the foster child and then turns that decision on its head by another character’s viewpoint. Who was right? Who was wrong? The story, like real life, doesn’t offer an easy solution.

Author Ben H. Winters provides the book with its true gem in “Trapped!” Actors work on a play off Broadway suddenly get caught up in intrigue and espionage. The story’s structure—written in script form—will leave readers grinning by the time it comes to its conclusion.

Manhattan Mayhem proves to be a mostly enjoyable read, and I recommend readers Borrow it.

[I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]