Book Review: Behind Closed Doors Anthology (A Red Penguin Collection)

Anthologies rarely cross my desk for review, possibly because they’re put together by so many different people. I enjoy them; it’s nice to see different stories from a wide range of people all focusing on a central theme, but for some reason I rarely get the opportunity to review them. So when Behind Closed Doors showed up on my “To Review” list, I was both excited—because stories!—and worried, because how do I review multiple different stories all at once? The truth is, I have no idea, so I’m making up this format as I go. 🙂

1. Thoughts on the theme

Behind Closed Doors is a mystery anthology featuring work from fourteen different authors, all writing a whodunnit or mystery or some variation on that theme. Now, I love mystery stories. I read everything, and enjoy everything, but mysteries hold a special place in my writery rain because puzzles are just so much fun. Searching for answers, trying to find the solution to problems…yep, love it all. So I was thrilled to read a mystery anthology. I think each writer did very well following the theme while also having unique voices. Some stories followed the more traditional style of whodunnit, i.e. a problem to solve, and others simply suggested at a solution or the problem. Both style, I found, worked very well. So yeah, a great range of mysteries.

2. Thoughts on the stories

I won’t mention specific stories, because I can’t remember which title went with which story (this is what happens when I read before having my tea) but I can say that there was not one story in this whole collection that I disliked. I think each was well crafted with the mystery both engaging the mind and being crafted by the characters rather than existing independently from the characters. I especially liked the variation in the stories; there were a wide range of problems from murder to scientific puzzles, and each one fit together well with the others. I liked them all quite a bit and found each of them worth the read.

3. Critique

My only critique for this anthology is that there wasn’t really an introduction. I had to discover what the anthology was about purely from the stories and the blurbs. Granted, I think the stories were cohesive enough that an introduction wasn’t strictly necessary, but it would have been nice to know how this collection came about. As for the stories themselves, all were very good.

Overall, this is one of the better, more cohesive anthologies I’ve read in a while. Each story was unique without completely turning the direction of the entire anthology. And, I really do love a mystery. Very good.