As owner of New York City’s Mysterious Bookshop, founder of The Mysterious Press, and co-editor of the essential Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection (1976), Otto Penzler has a widely respected knowledge of the literature, and an enviable eye for talented writers. For Dangerous Women, he has commissioned seventeen new short stories from some of the best writers of mystery and suspense fiction. The stories are set in various locations across the United States, France, and the United Kingdom; they take place as long ago as the 1920’s and as recently as yesterday; they deal with natural and supernatural forces. What unites the collection is that each, as the title suggests, features a seductively dangerous woman—often a deadly one.
Delightfully, every story in the collection is strong. One of the best is Walter Mosley’s “Karma,” whose detective Leonid McGill is a heart-breaking blend of sweet, sad family man and tough, unfeeling con man. In “Cielo Azul,” Michael Connelly’s police detective Hieronymous Bosch finds that he cannot shake the memory of one young woman whom nearly everyone else has forgotten. And in stories by Joyce Carol Oates and Laura Lippman, women make sport of men who cannot think clearly where beautiful women are concerned. “Mr. Gray’s Folly,” by John Connolly, raises the specter of the mythical figure of Adam’s first wife Lilith, and ponders the reasons that men have always feared the powers of women.
Other contributors include Ed McBain, J.A. Jance, Jay McInerney, and Elmore Leonard.