From Publishers Weekly
Mystery maven Penzler's latest all-original sports anthology offers 14 mostly high-quality tales of the underside of lawn tennis, the traditional game of sometimes not so gentle men (and women). There's something to suit every taste, from the short and light (Daniel Stashower's "A Peach of a Shot" and Kinky Friedman's "Tennis, Anyone?") to grittier psychological stories (John Harvey's "Promise" and Robert Leuci's "A Killer Overhead"). In Lisa Scottoline's amusing "Love Match," the tennis-playing protagonist is just plain lucky to be in the right place at the right time. Set in the South in 1948, Stephen Hunter's gripping "Stephen Longacre's Greatest Match" provides a lesson in race relations when a young white man, a ne'er-do-well from a wealthy family, tries to redeem himself by taking on a poor black man as his doubles partner. Notable chiefly for its closing pun is David Morrell's "Continental Grip," about the baffling murder of a Sante Fe, N.Mex., tennis pro. Other top-rank contributors include Lawrence Block, James W. Hall, Peter Lovesey and Judith Kelman. This tome is the perfect companion to have in the bag for those rain delays at Wimbledon.
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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
^BPenzler, the venerable mystery editor and anthologist, has compiled several top-notch thematic anthologies (on boxing and baseball, for example). This time his thematic arrow misses the mark. Although most of these 14 original stories are good (and some are excellent), too few of them have any real connection to the game of tennis, which is supposedly the book's raison d'etre. Lawrence Block's contribution is a standout: a clever story about a tennis player with anger-management issues in which the game is integral to the story. On the other hand, Kinky Friedman's "Tennis, Anyone?" is only peripherally about tennis; it feels as though the game was inserted into the story to make it fit the anthology's theme. Tennis enthusiasts may be disappointed by the way their passion is given such short shrift; fans of mystery short stories, however, at least those for whom thematic relevance isn't so important, will be more forgiving. With James W. Hall, Mike Lupica, Lisa Scottoline, Peter Lovesey, and others, some of the genre's best are on display here, even if they don't seem much interested in tennis. David Pitt
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