Blood On Their Hands Mass Market Paperback – September 7, 2004
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- Publisher : Berkley (September 7, 2004)
- Language : English
- Mass Market Paperback : 352 pages
- ISBN-10 : 042519924X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0425199244
- Item Weight : 6.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 4.25 x 0.75 x 6.75 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #6,243,798 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Lawrence Block is a very talented anthologist when he sets his mind to the task of selecting stories. Case in point, his two Manhattan Noir collections are superb. Also, last year's In Sunlight Or In Shadow was a big bestseller and included one Edgar winner and one nominee.
Sometimes, however, Block has succumbed to the temptation to allow his name to be put on the cover of a collection of short stories even if his only role was the crafting of its introduction. There is nothing wrong with this practice, but the results are less consistent. Blood on Their Hands is one such example where Block took the hands off approach, something he admits in his nonfiction book The Crime of Our Lives. The result is a collection with 5 strong stories ("Red Meat", "The Maids", "Doppelganger", "No Man's Land", "The Lady from Yesterday") and 14 average ones.
Here are my individual story reviews:
"Her Last Gift" by Brendan DuBois -- A young widow seeks revenge against the greedy entrepreneur whom she believes worked her husband to death. I had a hard time accepting this story because it seemed to have no real concept of the inner workings of a software development company. The widow's main gripe seems to be that she believes her husband's estate should be entitled to ongoing royalties from software sales. This makes no economic sense for anyone, given how software is priced and how frequently it is changed. It only makes the widow seem even more off-kilter and greedy than the villain of the piece.
"JoJo's Gold" by Noreen Ayres -- A trio of homeless beach combers take justice into their own hands when a compatriot is found dead on the shore. This sparse story felt like it could easily be expanded since the characters are so finely drawn. They deserved a more meaty plot and a less ambiguous ending.
"Black Heart and Cabin Girl" by Shelley Costa--A women inherits a lake house in Ontario where, sixteen years ago, her childhood friend died under mysterious circumstances. This story does an admirable job of depicting the lakeside community and setting up an intriguing backstory, even if the denouement is a bit muddled.
"One of Us" by Tom Savage--When she learns her husband is sleeping with her best friend, a vain and calculating wife sets up a psychological trap to either prove her husband still loves her or make sure his lover is dead. A great premise, but the author rushes the ending.
"A Trail of Mirrors" by Tracy Knight--A famous but aging psychiatrist battles senility while his mentee writes his biography. This narrative includes three surprise twists, which is one too many for a short story that is barely 20 pages long.
"Along for the Ride" by Aileen Schumacher--A lady on a high-rise construction crew harbors a vendetta against the son of the building's owner, and she will go to any length for her revenge.
"Red Meat" by Elaine Viets--A funny, sarcastic story of a fat middle aged man driven to murder his beautiful young physical fitness trainer. She is a metaphor for healthy living: beautiful but no fun at all!
"The Maids" by G. Miki Hayden--In the 1790's, a Haitian slave wrestles whether to serve the peaceful Catholic God of her harsh masters or a violent, independence-minded voodoo priest.
"Guardian Angel" by Elaine Togneri--A woman investigates the death of her friend and finds startling connections to events from her own past.
"The Day of the 31st" by Henry Slesar--A man's wife is murdered by a mentally ill young boy, and the husband wants justice beyond what the courts will provide. This story reads like a novel condensed to 25 pages; every character is hiding a secret, and only when they are all revealed do the pieces of the mystery fit.
"Another Night to Remember" by William E. Chambers--This story begins with an exciting sequence in which a former cop-turned-pub-owner is carjacked and saves himself only by crashing into the Hudson River. Unfortunately, the mystery of why he was targeted is painfully telegraphed, robbing this story of any real suspense.
"The Trouble with Harry" by Stefanie Matteson--A wife is driven to contemplate the murder of her louse of a husband. This quick story is a clever update on the Hitchcock movie of the same name.
"Any Old Mother" by Charlotte Hinger--A social worker intends to scam a rich widow into believing she is the daughter the woman gave up for adoption years ago. Imagine her surprise when the woman really turns out to be her birth mother! Not everything is as it seems, of course, but the final reveal relies on an even less plausible coincidence.
"Guile is Where It Goes" by Dan Crawford--Two thieves pull off a heist to steal a truck, but it is full of barrels of cow's blood. The only way to turn a profit is to sell it to vampires. This broad comedy does not fit the theme of the collection, but I give it props for being the only story with any hint of the supernatural.
"Doppelganger" by Rhys Bowen--A half-Jewish German student underestimates the influence of the Nazi government in the years before World War II, with startling consequences.
"Bloody Victims" by Matt Coward--A British police officer hatches a plan to capture muggers but gets stuck driving confused senior citizens around town in this light comedy.
"Safety First" by Marcia Talley--An insensitive library manager who routinely ignores safety hazards is taught a lesson by one of his staff members.
"No Man's Land" by Elizabeth Foxwell--A female ambulance driver in World War I must find a way to protect wounded soldiers from a flighty, self-obsessed drunk who puts their lives at risk. It is an intriguing milieu for a crime story, and the main characters could be further developed into an historical novel.
"The Lady from Yesterday" by Jeremiah Healy--A private eye turns down a case to try to clear an exotic dancer of a murder charge. When she turns up dead the next day, he uncovers a web of sex, blackmail, and broken dreams. The characters in this noir story are surprisingly engaging and memorable, and the plot sufficiently crafted.