Crimes by Moonlight: Mysteries from the Dark Side
Edited by Charlaine Harris
Review by Gayle Surrette
Berkley Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425235638
Date: 06 April 2010 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Charlaine Harris edited the Mystery Writers of America's supernatural anthology, Crimes by Moonlight: Mysteries from the Dark Side. The stories are a mix of invited stories and those chosen from blind submissions. All the authors are members of MWA. Some had never written woo-woo mysteries, and some were dying for the chance to try a new subgenre. Since all the authors are primarily mystery writers, there are some interesting takes on some of the supernatural story elements. However, they all work, and none fall outside the tropes of the either genre.
As you'd expect from any anthology, the stories vary in the way they handle the supernatural elements. I found stories I really liked, some that were okay, and others that just didn't do it for me. That's the joy of an anthology -- there's always bound to be some stories that match your taste so the time spent reading them is never wasted.
The first story in the anthology is "Dahlia Underground" by Charlaine Harris. This story takes place in the Sookie Stackhouse universe. The vampire summit hotel has just been bombed. Dahlia Lynley-Chivers manages to survive. She's one of the Rhodes vampires and this event reflects badly on them -- 50 vampires dead in their city. Cedric, Sheriff of Rhodes, is determined that they will find the people who set the bombs and exact justice. This story is a follow-up on All Together Dead. Dahlia doesn't care much for humans and spends as little time as possible with them -- having been rescued by them she begins to pay more attention and finds that old vampires can still learn something new.
"Hixton" by William Kent Krueger was a creepy tale of a journalist tracking down a cold case, only to find that things weren't as simple as he thought. Can't say much more or it will give it away, but not only does this have a decent mystery component but it also evokes a strong chill down your spine once you put things together.
Another story that stayed with me was "Small Change" by Margaret Maron. A thirteen-year-old girl decides to step in and solve the problem of the missing antiques from her dad's business. Of course, she has a bit of an advantage, or so she thinks, until she finds herself in over her head. But luckily she also finds some help.
Harley Jane Kozak's "Madeeda" is another story that has a fairly decent chill-factor. A young expectant mother learns that her twins have an imaginary friend. But when she starts to have hallucinations, she worries that their friend might be something more. Sometimes it does pay to be nice to everyone you meet and to listen to your heart.
Terrie Farley Moran's "The Awareness" is told from the point of view of a banshee bound to a family to recognize every death. When murder is committed, she becomes curious and sets out to solve the crime. This one stood out as a bit different in how the banshee was handled.
"Limbo" by Steve Brewer is one of those you wake up dead stories. The deceased, of course, must find his killer and he doesn't have much time and most of his memory is gone. This was appropriately twisted and convoluted to keep the reader guessing who-did-it. Mike Wiecek's "The Insider" has a neat twist on exacting revenge. On the other hand, "Riding High" by Carolyn Hart, has her point of view character, Bailey Ruth Raeburn, working to right some wrongs to get her angel wings.
Dana Cameron's "Swing Shift" has a down on his luck PI asked by a friend to look into a situations for him. Taking place during WWII, Jake needs to help his friend identify the person who is leaking top-secret information to the enemy. Well done with a lot of twist to keep it interesting as well as a few surprises for readers.
Max Allan Collins and Mickey Spillane pull off and interesting and absorbing mystery in "Grave Matter: A Mike Hammer Story". Mike following up on the death of a friend and finds more than he bargained for or could have believed in this gritty tale of science gone weird.
Toni L.P. Kelner in "Taking the Long View" manages to keep the story moving and interesting and the reader engaged in this tale of vampire politics, murder, and misdirection. Depending on what the investigation reveals, the vampires will find that the powers have shifted.
That's just a few of the stories that stayed with me after I read the book. Here's the full list of authors featured in Crimes by Moonlight: Charlaine Harris, William Kent Krueger, Margaret Maron, Brendan Dubois, Harley Jane Kozak, S.W. Hubbard, Jeffrey Somers, Elaine Viets, Barbara D'Amato, Lou Kemp, Martin Meyers, Terrie Farley Moran, Jack Fredrickson, Steve Brewer, Mike Wiecek, Dana Cameron, Carolyn Hart, Max Allan Collins and Micky Spillane, Parnell Hall, and Toni L.P. Kelner.
I'm sure you'll find plenty to keep you entertained and maybe you'll find some new authors to check out.