Malice Domestic 3 Author:Nancy Pickard (Editor) An Anthology of Original Traditional Mystery Stories — Traditional stories in which the mystery, not the murder, is most important. Among the 17 domestic tales included here are Robert Barnard's "Dog Television," which hinges on a canine's natural desire to dig; and "Goodbye, Sue Ellen," in which a husband and wife each plan to do the other in. A... more » former high school drama coach stars in Gary Alexander's "The Return of Ma Barker," and uppity Melly's death doesn't bring many tears in "The Neiman Marcus Body."
Readers with low gore tolerance and high inquisitiveness should find these tales a pleasant diversion.
There is a surprising, and refreshing, variety to the 13 stories in this third in a series of mystery short story collections (previous volumes were edited by Elizabeth Peters and Mary Higgins Clark.
Some situations here are well beyond Miss Marple's ken: take Susan and Bill Albert's story, in which townspeople, many with car phones, witness a crime and solve it together on a call-in talk-radio show.
In Nancy Pickard's offering, crooks rely on a university's sign language-using gorilla as a witness and alibi. The stories by Taylor McCafferty and Deborah Adams each end with an appropriately ironic twist.
Dorothy Cannell contributes a hilarious, if overdone, send-up of Jane Austen, the Brontes and lesser period romance writers.
Sharyn McCrumb's epistolary "Gentle Reader" is well-written except for the too-cute inclusion of her and other current mystery writers' names on a panel with her fictional author. Some of the stories leave interesting characters undeveloped, and two (Wendy Hornsby's "High Heels in the Headliner" and Camilla T. Crespi's "The Trouble with the Shoot") seem to stretch the definition of what makes a "cozy."
Marilyn Wallace submits a brooding, suspenseful and ambiguous tale of trust and suspicion within a marriage, but in the end it's a letdown.
However, Joan Hess's "Make Yourselves at Home" and Marlys Millhiser's grisly Gothic, "Cara's Turn," are unsubtle but satisfying mayhem, and this collection is -- mostly -- satisfying.« less