Oline H. Cogdill

Politics makes strange bedfellows—a saying that has never been more true than in the current arena.

But politics mainly stays out of the mystery genre.

While political thrillers abound, most of the time the authors are very careful about not taking sides.

Often a political thriller will not say which political party a character represents. And if the author does use that character to take a stand, sometimes it is done in a way that both sides think that they are being represented.

I think that is because crime fiction rises above so many things. Crime fiction—mysteries, whatever label you want to use—has always been more about the social issues of the day, about making us think about who we are as a society. These novels challenge us to look beyond the plot and see what lies beneath.

So I am very interested in an upcoming short story collection Low Down Dirty Vote and how these authors handle politics. The dozen authors have penned short stories related to voter suppression, including Anthony, Macavity, and Edgar winners such as Catriona McPherson, James Ziskin, David Hagerty (pictured), and Camille Minichino.

I think they will do an excellent job.

I haven’t read the collection yet, but knowing these authors’ works, I think they will challenge the reader without giving away their own views. Low Down Dirty Vote comes out July 4—how appropriate. Even more appropriate, 100 percent of the sales of this book is being donated to the ACLU to help fight voter suppression.

Low Down Dirty Vote also fits in well with the new direction short story collections are taking. I am loving that so many short story collections take a unique theme that the authors embrace with aplomb.

Some of my favorite collections though the years are:

Unloaded: Crime Writers Writing Without Guns edited by Eric Beetner (Down & Out Books);

Crime + Music: Twenty Stories of Music-Themed Noir (Three Rooms Press);

In Sunlight or in Shadow: Stories Inspired by the Paintings of Edward Hopper edited by Lawrence Block (Pegasus Books);

The publisher Akashic’s noir collection features short stories set in different cities or regions such as Chicago, Miami, Puerto Rico, San Francisco, the list goes one.

Mystery Writers of America does a terrific collection each year with a different theme.

The annual Bouchercon mystery conference also publishes a short story collection with proceeds going to a nonprofit.

As for a vintage collection, I recommend The Archer Files, The Complete Short Stories of Lew Archer, Private Investigator by Ross Macdonald.