Review: Crime Hits Home

A Collection of Stories from Crime Fiction’s Top Authors

edited by S.J. Rozan

pub date: 19-April-2022

Harlequin Trade Publishing

AMBER LOVE 22-MAY-2022 This review is a courtesy provided by NetGalley. To support this site and my other work, please consider being a monthly donor at Patreon.com/amberunmasked; you can also buy my books through Amazon (or ask your local retailer to order you copies). I’ve also curated lists of books and other things I like on Amazon so you can shop through my lists of recommended products.

Publisher’s summary:

The newest anthology from Mystery Writers of America explores the theme of home and the crimes that endanger it, with stories by Ellen Hart, Naomi Hirahara, Walter Mosley, Sara Paretsky and more.

Everyone comes from someplace. Everyone has somewhere they feel safe. Some people have found their home and are content where they are. Others feel trapped and yearn to go somewhere else. Many are somewhere else and yearn to go back. But even in these safest of places, sometimes…crime hits home. What happens then?

In this volume, MWA brings together some of today’s biggest crime writers—and some of our most exciting new talents—to consider this question. Each writer has defined home as they see fit: a place, a group, a feeling. The crime can come from without or within. What happens when crime hits home?

Featuring stories from:

Naomi Hirahara
David Bart
Sara Paretsky
Susan Breen
Gary Phillips
Neil S. Plakcy
Renee James
Connie Johnson Hambley
Gabino Iglesias
A.P. Jamison
Walter Mosley
Tori Eldridge
Ellen Hart
G. Miki Hayden
Jonathan Santlofer
Jonathan Stone
Ovidia Yu
Bonnie Hearn Hill
Steve Liskow
S.J. Rozan

Review:

The concept of home is explored in this edition of the Mystery Writers’ of America short stories anthology, Crime Hits Home. Home can be a physical place where one lives and keeps their possessions; maybe it’s more about where someone spent their youth; for others, home has little to do with a physical structure and is more about how a feeling of warmth, comfort, and familiarity can be created.

I think this was my first time reading any of these authors unless I caught them in other anthologies. I’ll also admit there was only one story that I couldn’t finish because there was something about the writing style that felt clunky and difficult for me to read. The stories are diverse in character ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation. I chose to highlight a few of them.

Grand Garden by Naomi Hirahara is the first story. Of course you don’t need to read an anthology in any particular order, but I went through it in sequence. Grand Garden exposed me to characters in a time, place, and culture unfamiliar to me. There’s a frustrating and sad quality to reading about this character’s life as a Japanese-American child dealing with disrespectful White classmates. While a sacred katana, a family treasure, is central to this story, what you don’t get is exploitative martial arts action movie scenes. It’s about children who oppress their peers and no semblance of courtesy in them at all. Grand Garden asks, what wouldn’t a child do to protect their family’s personal space even if it appears humble or poor?

Banana Island by Susan Breen is a great take on the confidence game known as the Nigerian scam. Marly and Danjuma are characters connected through their jobs, yet there’s an undeniable tether between them that even Marly can’t explain. Danjuma is a con man. Marly’s job is to stop him before he takes another woman’s money. Author Susan Breen challenges the boundaries of a physical home when Marly is attacked in the one place she should be safest.

Haunted Home on the Range by A.P. Jamison presents something completely unique to this collection: a young detective named Augusta “Gus” DeWitt. This story is not only about solving a mystery, but also what it’s like for a person to go through life wanting to break through gender roles. Through deductive reasoning and an ability to see and interact with ghosts, Gus solves a murder.

Forever Unconquered by G. Miki Hayden takes readers to the Florida Everglades, specifically into a geographic area still owned by Seminoles. By utilizing this setting, the author informs us about how indigenous families may interact with outsiders; it also creates dramatic conflict between U.S. law enforcement, criminals, and the Native Americans over jurisdiction. Billie is an ex-Ranger with a bad leg who will do whatever is necessary by the Seminole law to protect their land and families. Billie faces smugglers who threaten to kill his sister if he doesn’t take them to an unsafe location. It’s Billie’s comfort zone. Even knowing that these criminals don’t stand a chance, the story through Billie’s perspective is tense.

Other stories that I found incredibly unique and compelling were Live Pawns by Ovidia Yu, The Happy Birthday Song by Bonnie Hearn Hill, and Jack in the Box by Steve Liskow. They were wonderful vignettes into the lives of characters so different from the average homogenous hero in our entertainment offerings.

Rating: 5 stars

five star rating

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