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Publisher's Summary

There’s nothing more mysterious than a locked box. Whether it’s a literal strongbox, an empty coffin, the inner workings of a scientist’s mind, or an underground prison cell, there are those who will use any means necessary to unlock the secrets of The Mystery Box.

With this anthology, best-selling author Brad Meltzer introduces 21 original stories from today’s most prominent mystery writers. In Laura Lippman’s "Waco 1982", a young reporter stuck with a seemingly mundane assignment on lost-and-found boxes unwittingly discovers a dark crime. In Joseph Finder’s "Heirloom", a scheming neighbor frightens the new couple on the block with an unnerving tale of buried treasure. In R. L. Stine’s "High Stakes", a man on his honeymoon gets drawn into a bizarre bet involving a coffin, a bet he may pay for with his life.

From the foothills of Mount Fuji to Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp, from a physics laboratory in wartime Leipzig to an unusual fitness club in Boca Raton, these sometimes terrifying, sometimes funny, and always suspenseful tales will keep you riveted. (The complete list of narrators includes Joe Barrett and Donald Corren.)

©2013 Mystery Writers of America, Inc. (P)2013 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"The consistently high quality of the 22 selections will lead many to hope the MWA will sponsor more volumes in this vein." ( Publishers Weekly, starred review of  Mystery Writers of America Presents: The Prosecution Rests)

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    84
  • 4 Stars
    122
  • 3 Stars
    147
  • 2 Stars
    58
  • 1 Stars
    41

Performance

  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    95
  • 4 Stars
    129
  • 3 Stars
    105
  • 2 Stars
    38
  • 1 Stars
    22

Story

  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    77
  • 4 Stars
    95
  • 3 Stars
    127
  • 2 Stars
    61
  • 1 Stars
    33
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Susan
  • Winnipeg, MB, Canada
  • 08-18-15

Interesting box stories

Good collection of stories using a box as the main interest. Authors delivered as well as narrators.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Sharon
  • United States
  • 05-10-13

Worth the Credit

Some stories were surely better than others, but I still enjoyed the book. I especially liked Karen Slaughter, Joseph Finer, S. W. Hubbard and R.L. Stein. Glad I gave it a try!

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Linda
  • PITTSBURGH, PA, United States
  • 08-16-14

Odd collection

I agree with the other reviewers that many of the stories are contrived to fit the box theme. Many are not mysteries. However, I think the theme is interesting, and the collection worth the credit. All are well written and narrated.

The 1st story is my favorite. The Most Private Detective is my next most favorite. A number of others were very interesting as well.
The last one, about the world record, is explicit and raunchy, so beware.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Phillip
  • GRANT, AL, United States
  • 05-09-14

Not much of a mystery in these stories

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

If the mysteries had any mystery behind them. The stories were okay, but maybe the focus should have been on fewer but more robust stories.

Would you ever listen to anything by Brad Meltzer (editor) again?

Not one of these collections.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of the narrators?

The narrators were okay, the stories just lacked teeth.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Mystery Writers of America Presents The Mystery Box?

I would have cut the quantity of stories in half.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

A Mixed Box

Any additional comments?

It's hard to rate a mixed bag of stories, since some of them will likely be more to one's liking than others. Such is the case with this book.

Some of the stories are delightfully clever with happy, triumphant endings. Some of them are humorous, almost like long jokes with unexpected punchlines. Some of them are deeply haunting and socially insightful, and some of them stick with you because they are horrible and ugly, like skunk stink. You wish you could scrub them out of your brain, but you will never be able to. Alas, these are the risks we take when we read new authors.

Overall, will you like this book? Parts of it. If you're a cozy mystery fan, this book is probably not for you. These mysteries are not cozy. If you're a noir-fan, you'll like this a bit more. If you're up for a fair bit of mind-twisting, then plunge right in.

Content warning for those who care: Various stories in this book contain extreme profanity, adult content, and troubling themes.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful Collection

What made the experience of listening to Mystery Writers of America Presents The Mystery Box the most enjoyable?

The stories are great. Not all of them are equal and some I liked less, but there are so many of them that are excellent and extremely enjoyable to listen to.

Have you listened to any of the narrators’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

A very well narrated group of stories. Performances were generally fun to hear.

If you could rename Mystery Writers of America Presents The Mystery Box, what would you call it?

Pandora's Gift

Any additional comments?

I still haven't finished all of these wonderful contributions, but most have been very enjoyable. I would encourage any mystery lover to acquire this wonderful collection.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Worth every penny!

Would you listen to Mystery Writers of America Presents The Mystery Box again? Why?

Yes, I definitely would listen to this title again. The collection of short storie was the best well rounded collection I have ever heard.

Any additional comments?

The short story “Remmy Rothstein Toes the Line (annotated)” by Karin Slaughter was by far the most interesting, funny, crazy, impossible to describe short story ever written in my opinion. Your missing out if you pass this one up.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Gudrun
  • Fort Resolution, Northwest Territories, Canada
  • 02-22-18

One of the best collections

This was one of the best collections I have read. Normally these collections are 50/50 good and bad. But in this case I would say the good was 60% with 20% of them being excellent.
This is worth the credit.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

1 decent sci-fi story and 20 total crap

Seriously, I listened to every story and it was hours of boredom, during which I wondered several things. Why are most/almost all of these stories set between the 1790s and 1982? How are these people earning an income, because it sure as hell isn't from writing anything I want to read.

Would I return this book if I'd paid a whole credit for it? YES!

Why do audiobook recording studios have so few candidates to choose from when hiring narrators that a woman who can't pronounce the French word petit is narrating the story set in France? How do you write a mind-numbingly boring story set on France?

How do you write such a craptastic story that Simon Vance's narrating can't make it a worthy listening experience?

Oh well, I hoped I would find a new author to explore. I didn't. The interesting story was more X-Files Sci Fi than having any mystery element. There was another story which was absolutely stolen from a Star Trek movie and contained no mystery at all. Several stories didn't ever mention a box; all were supposed to be about a box... it's called a theme element, so the stories make a collection based on a theme.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Some stories didn't really have an ending.

What disappointed you about Mystery Writers of America Presents The Mystery Box?

I couldn't finish the book, but I made it about halfway through. A couple of the stories were good or very good, but some seemed to just stop without a conclusion. I thought I had listened pretty closely to the stories but all of a sudden another story was starting and I was lost. I went backward and listened again, but it was the same sort of non-ending.

I don't usually listen to short stories and will hardly ever get an abridged version of a book, so maybe it's just not "my" genre. I want to have the ending fairly well explained. I'm not a dummy; I can understand implications, but I need more than these stories gave me.

What could Brad Meltzer (editor) have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Picked different stories.

What aspect of the narrators’s performance would you have changed?

I had no problem with any of the narrators.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Out of the stories I listened to, I really enjoyed at least two, and pretty much liked another couple. But it wasn't enough to go on and listen to the rest.

Any additional comments?

No.