Review of Id, The Observer, by Peter Guttridge

The crime story has been coming into its own again. The great strength of the short story form in general is that a writer can do pretty much anything he or she wants with it. Crime writers don’t quite have that freedom, as readers arrive with certain expectations, but some are taking interesting chances.

There is some experimentation in ID: Crimes of Identity (Comma Press £7.95, pp186), the latest in the annual anthology of themed stories from the Crime Writers’ Association. As usual, editor Martin Edwards has chosen an interesting mix of the well-known – greats such as Peter Lovesey, Robert Barnard, Edward D Hoch, Tonino Benacquista – and the less well-known.

There isn’t one dud. What’s most fun is the inventive ways the contributors have responded to the theme. I particularly liked the way historical mystery writer Michael Jecks developed a powerful story set at airport security; I was moved by Zoe Sharp’s sad precis of the life of a girl born without a chance; and I loved the formal experimentation of Paul A Freeman’s four-paragraph story and Edwards’s own murder story told in the form of a book’s index.