The Rich and the Dead: How money begets crime

This Mystery Writers of America 2011 anthology of short stories features 20 clever yarns about wealthy people who are killed or who kill.

The Rich and the Dead
Grand Central Publishing 
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Here's a perfect read for the plane, the pool or the beach - and that's not damning it with faint praise.

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The Rich and the Dead is the Mystery Writers of America 2011 anthology of short stories. Its editor, Nelson DeMille - a best-selling novelist in the genre and a former president of the group - has chosen well, with the newcomers Karan Catalona and Carolyn Mullen joining such veterans as Ted Bell, Lee Child, Michael Connelly, David DeLee and Harley Jane Kozak among the 20 offerings.

As in all anthologies, one man's meat is another man's poison - the latter of which features as a means of murder in DeMille's own clever Death Benefits.

Indeed, clever is the word for these pieces, which adhere to the theme of rich people who are killed or who kill. When the tale is told in as few as eight pages, plot will always trump character.

Inevitably, favourites emerge, and Connelly's Blood Washes Off is hard to ignore. It uses the transcript of an interview in which the usually unflappable detective Harry Bosch is taken unawares. Likewise, Mullen's Poetic Justice, whose title slyly hints at the true identity (adroitly revealed at the end) of the two main characters.