I’ve been able to get to a few of the stories already in the new edition of the Best American Mystery stories, and wouldn’t you know I already started writing one new story and looking over another story I have about 2k written of. Laura Lippman’s great story “One True Love” so far is probably my favorite in the collection, but the lead-off story “Stab” by Chris Adrian is amazing and really got me thinking.
The basic story is of a young budding serial killer who takes an autistic boy under her wing as she moves from killing small neighborhood animals to bigger things. This story did interesting things to my emotions and sense of horror. As the girl killed small animals like squirrels and such I didn’t feel much of anything, I was just enjoying the prose. But then she moved to cats and then dogs. That hurt.
The killings were handled well and weren’t gratuitous, but still, it bothered me. And the she moved on to horses and I was fine again. What is it about dogs and cats that bring out such strong emotions regarding their killings. If it’s because they’re more human-like than other animals, then why doesn’t the killing of actual humans strike as much of an emotional chord. I respect Adrian’s choice to kill the animals on-stage if you will, it was difficult to read but added a great layer to the story. In my own story “Alter Road” I went back and forth about killing a dog before I realized it was the only way for the story to go.
The other story I’ve read so far is “T-Bird” from John Bond, his first attempt at short fiction which makes me incredibly jealous. I was pleased to see that the story “Interlude at Duane Reade’s” from the “Thriller” anthology was listed as a notable story in the back of the collection because it was one of my favorite stories from that antho. I would have also liked to see JA Konrath get some loving for his Phin Trout story, but I suspect his time is coming.