19 December 2023

The Best Private Eye Stories of the Year

As we celebrate the holidays and wrap up 2023, we’ll soon be reviewing this year’s accomplishments and making our plans (let’s not call them resolutions!) for the coming year. I’ll certainly do that in my first post of the new year—as I’ve been doing each year even before joining SleuthSayers. For my last post of this year, though, I’m announcing a new anthology series that will have me spending more time walking the mean streets: The Best Private Eye Stories of the Year.

Though my original goal was to become a science fiction/fantasy writer and my first professional fiction sale was a fantasy (“The Magic Stone,” Young World, November 1978), my second pro sale was a private eye story (“City Desk,” Gentleman’s Companion, January 1983). Technically, the protagonist was a newspaper reporter, but the Private Eye Writers of America includes reporters within their broad definition of private eye.

Since then, I’ve written dozens of private eye stories and one private eye novel, was nominated for a Shamus Award, edited several private eye anthologies for Betancourt & Co. and Down & Out Books, served on a handful of Shamus Award committees, served one term as vice president of the PWA, and gave the keynote address at the 2019 Shamus Awards Banquet in Dallas. So, I’ve been a regular visitor to the mean streets.

And now, as series editor of The Best Private Eye Stories of the Year, thanks to Level Best Books, I can celebrate the best short stories in a sub-genre that has played a significant role in my crime fiction writing career.

Joining me as guest editor of the inaugural edition is Matt Coyle, a writer I’ve faced across the poker table at several Bouchercons and who has a special place in Temple’s heart because she won a copy of his Night Tremors at her first Bouchercon (New Orleans 2016).

Joining us to write a year in review essay is Kevin Burton Smith, the driving force behind ThrillingDetective.com and the author of numerous articles and essays about private eye fiction. Though I didn’t meet Kevin until this year’s Bouchercon in San Diego, we’ve crossed paths several times in the virtual world, and he published one of my PI stories (“My Client’s Wife,” Spring 2007), back when Thrilling Detective published fiction.

There’s more information about Matt and Kevin in the official media release (below), as well as a link to information about how writers, editors, and fans can bring PI stories to my attention for possible inclusion in the inaugural edition of The Best Private Eye Stories of the Year.


The Best Private Eye Stories of the Year, an annual anthology celebrating the best private eye short stories published each year, will be released by Level Short, an imprint of Level Best Books, beginning in 2025. The inaugural edition will honor the best PI stories published in 2024.

Series editor Michael Bracken welcomes Matt Coyle as guest editor for the first volume and notes that Kevin Burton Smith will contribute “The Year in Review,” an essay looking at the year’s significant events in private eye fiction.

Matt Coyle is the Anthony Award, Lefty Award, and two-time Shamus Award winning author of the long-running Rick Cahill series. He was named the 2021 Mystery Writer of the Year by the San Diego Writer’s Festival, and he has received the San Diego Book Award for Best Mystery as well as a silver Ben Franklin Award for Best New Voice in Fiction. He has also been nominated for Barry, Derringer, and Macavity awards.

Kevin Burton Smith is the creator and driving force behind The Thrilling Detective Web Site, founded in 1998, and he has written extensively about private eye fiction for Mystery Scene, January Magazine, The Rap Sheet, Deadly Pleasures, and many others. He has also spoken on the subject at numerous mystery conventions, and on radio and television.

Michael Bracken, the Anthony Award-nominated editor or co-editor of more than two dozen published and forthcoming anthologies, is a consulting editor at Level Short, editor of Black Cat Mystery Magazine, and associate editor of Black Cat Weekly. Also a writer, Bracken is the Edgar- and Shamus-nominated, Derringer-winning author of more than 1,200 short stories, including crime fiction published in The Best American Mystery Stories and The Year’s Best Mystery Stories.

Only private eye stories published in English during 2024 will be considered. For a complete description of submission requirements, visit https://www.crimefictionwriter.com/submissions.html.

Learn more about series editor Michael Bracken at https://www.crimefictionwriter.com/; learn more guest editor Matt Coyle at https://mattcoylebooks.com/; learn more about Level Best Books at https://www.levelbestbooks.us/.

Mickey Finn: 21st Century Noir, vol. 4 (Down & Out Books) was released December 11, 2023.

Homecoming” appeared in Yellow Mama, December 15, 2023.

Jolly Fat Man” appeared in Kings River Life, December 18, 2023.


  1. This "best-of" sounds great, Michael.

    Do you ever sleep . . . ?

  2. Yet again, congratulations, Michael. You are an amazing hard-working and effective editor. Well done. And merry Christmas!

  3. The Best Private Eye Stories of the Year is coming soon, and Michael Bracken created this story. This will be released in 2025. People are very excited about reading this historical story, and students are engaged with CIPD assignment writers to complete the annual assignments projects and submit the tasks.


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