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About Us

Assembly of books

In 2003 Susan Oleksiw, Kate Flora, and Skye Alexander introduced Level Best Books with the publication of Undertow: Crime Stories by New England Writers. This group was later joined by Ruth McCarty. After seven anthologies, LBB was taken up by another group of editors: Mark Ammons, Kat Fast, Barbara Ross, and Leslie Wheeler. They later passed the baton to Verena Rose, Harriet Sackler, and Shawn Reilly Simmons. When the third group of editors turned their focus to novel-length fiction, several of us mourned the loss of an anthology dedicated to New England writers.

In 2021 Susan Oleksiw, Ang Pompano, and Leslie Wheeler created Crime Spell Books.  As editors, writers, and readers, their special regard and affection for short fiction led to their decision to revive the original intent and publish an annual anthology of the best New England crime stories. The decision was met with gratifying support and enthusiasm, and they were delighted with the number of stories flowing in from all across our region. Thus, Bloodroot was born.  At the end of 2021, Ang Pompano turned his attention to other work, including his novels. Susan and Leslie are pleased to announce that Christine Bagley has joined the team of Crime Spell Books editors.


Now they are proud to announce that the third anthology of Best New England Crime Stories 2023, Wolfsbane, will be published in October 2023.

Meet The Team

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Susan Oleksiw 

Susan Oleksiw writes two series. The Anita Ray series, set in South India with an Indian-American photographer, and the Mellingham series set in a New England town features Chief of Police Joe Silva. A stand-alone, Below the Tree Line, follows Felicity O'Brien, farmer and healer. Susan’s short fiction has appeared in AHMM and numerous anthologies. She published A Reader's Guide to the Classic British Mystery (1988) and co-edited The Oxford Companion to Crime and Mystery Writing (1999). She was a co-founder of Level Best Books, and is a co-founder and editor of Crime Spell Books. 

Leslie Wheeler

Leslie Wheeler is the award-winning author of the Berkshire Hilltown Mysteries (Rattlesnake Hill and Shuntoll Road), from Encircle) and the Miranda Lewis Living History Mysteries (Murder at Plimoth Plantation, Murder at Gettysburg, and Murder at Spouters Point). Her mystery short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies including The Best New England Crime Stories anthologies published by Level Best Books, where she was a co-editor for six years. She is delighted to return as a co-editor at Crime Spell Books, which now publishes these anthologies. Leslie is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, and a founding member of the New England Crime Bake. She divides her time between Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Berkshires, where she writes in a house overlooking a pond.



Christine Bagley



Christine Bagley is a New England fiction writer who holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University. She was a 2016 fiction contributor to the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, and from 2011 to 2019, she taught writing and presentation skills to foreign national physicians and scientists at Schepens Eye Research Institute, affiliate of Harvard Medical School. She is the former editor of The Medical Services Review for Massachusetts General Hospital, and Eye Contact for Schepens. Her short story fiction has appeared six times in Best New England Crime Stories by Level Best Books, and again in Best New England Crime Stories: Bloodroot, acquired by Crime Spell Books. Additional publications include Briar Cliff Review, Bryant Literary Review, and Untoward Magazine. In 2022, she became a co-editor at Crime Spell Books. 

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