September 23, 2002 12:00 PM

Edited by Otto Penzler and Thomas H. Cook

The title is something of a misnomer: The crime writing is solely from one year—2001—and only from magazines. Despite such limitations, though, the 17 articles chosen by Penzler, a mystery bookstore owner, and Cook, a first-rate (but undersung) thriller writer, are compelling.

Subjects range from an undercover drug agent in Mexico to a mentally retarded murderer sweating out a death sentence in Texas to O.J. Simpson trying to find peace in Florida. And, of course, 2001 was the year of the greatest crime of our time—9/11. If the editors go ahead with their laudable plan for more volumes in coming years, let’s hope they find a way to include photos. Getting only the text of these excellent magazine stories is like listening to a stereo with only one speaker. (Vintage, $15)

Bottom Line: Arresting reading

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