From Publishers Weekly
Child, the creator of the Jack Reacher series (Gone Tomorrow
, etc.), offers a mixed bag in this anthology of 25 original stories by members of ITW (International Thriller Writers), divided between fledgling authors and established names such as Gregg Hurwitz, Stephen Coonts, and Heather Graham. Daniel James Palmer and Michael Palmer's The Dead Club, in which a greedy doctor joins a betting club that gambles on when unidentified patients will expire, does the best job at making the genre work in short form. Child, by contrast, misses the mark with the less than gripping The Bodyguard, an account of how the narrator became an ex-bodyguard. Of the newcomers, Rip Gerber's Last Supper, about a grieving widower's plot for revenge, is well-paced and compelling, while Ryan Brown's supernaturally tinged Suspended isn't. Other contributors include Ken Bruen, John Lescroart, and Karin Slaughter. Steve Berry, ITW's current president, provides an afterword. (June)
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*Starred Review* This is hands down one of the best short story collections you're ever likely to read. The brainchild of the (relatively new) International Thrillers Writers organization, the book features never-before-published stories by such notables as Jeffery Deaver, Michael Palmer, Gregg Hurwitz, Stephen Coonts, John Lescroart, Karin Slaughter, and Lee Child (who also serves as the book's editor). Alongside them, you'll find top-notch short fiction from names that might be less familiar—J. T. Ellison, CJ Lyons, Sean Michael Bailey—but they are writers who certainly won't remain unfamiliar for long. The stories fit under the most inclusive of thriller umbrellas, but many contain elements of mysteries, science fiction, and horror as well. They feature an equally diverse cast of characters, too, ranging from con men and killers to aliens, ghosts, and zombies. In many short story collections, there are a few standouts. Here, nearly the entire lineup stands out. Lescroart's “The Gato Conundrum,” for example, is a fine spy thriller that moves through Italy, England, Russia, France, and the U.S., all in 20 pages. Heather Graham's “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” combines grisly horror with a historical setting. Theo Gangi's “Eddy May” is a seemingly straightforward story about a pair of con artists that turns out to be not straightforward at all; in an anthology full of plot twists, Gangi's definitely out twists them all. A masterful collection. --David Pitt