Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Review: When a Stranger Comes to Town - edited by Michael Koryta

Edited by Michael Koryta
Publisher: Hanover Square Press
Publication Date: April 2021

The latest Mystery Writers of America story collection, featuring surprising, page-turning twists on the genre from some of the top bestsellers and award winners in crime fiction

It’s been said that all great literature boils down to one of two stories—a man takes a journey, or a stranger comes to town. While mystery writers have been successfully using both approaches for generations, there’s something undeniably alluring in the nature of a stranger: the uninvited guest, the unacquainted neighbor, the fish out of water.

No matter how or where they appear, strangers are walking mysteries, complete unknowns in once-familiar territories who disrupt our lives with unease and wonder. In the newest collection of stories by the Mystery Writers of America, each author weaves a fresh tale surrounding the eerie feeling that comes when a stranger enters our midst, featuring stories by prolific mystery writers such as Michael Connelly, Dean Koontz and Joe Hill.

 When A Stranger Comes to Town was a pleasant surprise. It is rare for me to find an anthology where I can honestly say I enjoyed 90% of the stories.  I enjoyed my time reading all but maybe one or two short stories in this set.  The theme for the stories was strangers, either coming or going.  There is definitely something for everyone here.

 Along with some bigger named authors, I discovered some unknown-to-me writers that I would love to read more from. I was intrigued by Jacquleine Freimor's  "Here's to New Friends".  It had a nice twist to Strangers on a Train with an ending that I didn't see coming.  I also enjoyed "Tokyo Stranger" by Tina deBelegarde.  It was a different kind of thriller and made me want seek out her debut book.  I also really liked "Perfect Strangers" by Tilia Kleneov Jacobs.  I loved the ending on that one.  

Among the well known authors, my favorites were "A Six Letter Word for Neighbor" by Lisa Unger.  I always enjoy her stories. Alafair Burke's "Seat 2C" had me wanting a longer story with that plot-line.  I wanted to know what came next.   The weakest ones for me were "Last Fare" by Joe Hill.  Not surprising since I haven't really liked much that he has written recently.  I also wasn't a fan of  "Howard's Heart" by Bryon Quertermous.  I just didn't click with that story. 

 Despite there being 19 stories, I was able to read the book very quickly. As I said, there is something here for everyone.  I highly recommend it!

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