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A Century of Great Suspense Stories Hardcover – November 1, 2001

3.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Penzler Pick, February 2002: To the casual observer, it might seem that editing an anthology is a great gig. After all, you essentially get to put your name on a book that other people have written! But an anthology is very much like a paella: it's easy to make one, it's just hard to make a good one. Jeffery Deaver has made a good one. The key to outstanding anthologies is to get good writers, good stories, and the proper mix of classics (the predictable) and discoveries (the unpredictable).

As you might expect from a suspense anthology, one of Deaver's own stories, "The Weekender," is included, and it's one of the high spots of the book. The major ingredient of a suspense story should be... well, suspense. Commonly nowadays, if a story or book isn't a pure genre detective story, it's called "suspense," but in fact it may have no more white-knuckle, heart-pounding, sweat-inducing suspense than a Harlequin romance. Deaver delivers it in this story, as he does in his novels.

Stephen King's "Quitters, Inc." is one of the great classics of suspense, and it's here. We can only wonder which story by Patricia Highsmith, one of the greatest of all suspense writers, would have been in the book. Though she is listed on the dust jacket, no trace of her work can be found in the text. The dust jacket's promise of Reginald Hill is also, alas, unfulfilled.

There are many superb stories here that ultimately fail to deliver on the suspense front. The detective stories of Ellery Queen, for example, represented here by "The Adventure of the Dauphin's Doll," are long on excellent detective plotting but pretty short on nail-biting. The same is true for Michael Malone's brilliant, Edgar-winning masterpiece, "Red Clay," and Rex Stout's wonderful "Fourth of July Picnic." A bad idea in assembling an anthology is to use a "big name" just for the sake of having his work in the book, and that is the case with "Chee's Witch" by Tony Hillerman, one of America's most distinguished mystery novelists, who has admitted that he can't write short stories and proves it with this weak example.

As an anthologist myself, I find it almost irresistible to point out stories that should have been included but weren't, most notably the best pure suspense story of the past decade, Brendan DuBois's "The Dark Snow," and certainly something by the greatest suspense writer of the 20th century, Cornell Woolrich.

Still, this excellent collection is worthwhile because it's chock full of terrific mystery fiction, even if the level of suspense leaves a bit to be desired. --Otto Penzler

From Publishers Weekly

Rex Stout, Ellery Queen, Mickey Spillane, Lisa Scottoline and Stephen King are just a few of the talents included in A Century of Great Suspense Stories, edited by Jeffery Deaver (The Bone Collector). These 36 stories, originally published in the likes of Black Mask and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, will delight mystery lovers.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Hardcover (November 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425181928
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425181928
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.8 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,730,217 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on November 6, 2001
Format: Hardcover
When I first saw the title of this book all I could think of was oh no, another saves the century for the ages with one more literary anthology. The Ancient Library at Alexandria could never have contained more papyrus than we have currently available some short story theme involving the century. Though I have fully enjoyed each of the previous collections leisurely reading them over a couple of weeks (which seems like a century when compared to my normal pace), I vowed no more. Than I opened this book just to glimpse at who contributed and soon was hooked again all because Lawrence Block submitted a Batman tale.

Once again the quality is top rate as the thirty-six well-written stories run much of the suspense gamut submitted by a notable cast of writers. The tales include police and legal procedurals as well as the classic private sleuth investigative story among the assortment of other twist and turn tales. None of the stories shortchanges the ensemble, as this is a triumphant aggregation that is worth unhurriedly reading over a couple of weeks.

Harriet Klausner
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Format: Kindle Edition
Like the author, I won't keep you in suspense...

Just because a great writer puts together an anthology does not guarantee that it will be great. Such is the case with this collection. Based on the few stories I have read so far, there is little suspense involved.

For example, “The Gentleman In the Lake”- has its grisly aspects, but little if any suspense.

“Life In Our Time” is not one of Robert Bloch’s best, or even close to being representative of his great talent.

"Batman's Helpers"- More a comedy than anything else, it does not have a satisfying resolution, and seems pointless.

The very last story, by Donald Westlake, "This is Death", is creepy, but would be more at home in the Horror section.

In short, this collection is devoid of the suspense I am familiar with from classic collections. It seems aimed at readers who are not that well-read, or who are easily entertained. Ask yourself why, amidst all these offerings, there is not one single story from Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. Instead Deaver draws from Ellery Queen’s magazine, known more for mystery and detective work than suspense.

I recommend “Hanging By a Thread”(Joan Kahn), or any of the Hitchcock anthologies. By comparison, this book is a big disappointment.
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Format: Hardcover
Certainly Jeffery Deaver should know good mysteries when he sees them, and in his
personal compilation of a century of these great stories, the reader should assume it's just that, a
collection of great stories! And they are! Deaver exercises an ecumenical spirit here, practically
running the gamut of the genre!

It goes without staying that short stories generally don't carry the impact that novels do on
the same subject (not to patronize short stories, of course, as they are great in their own "write").
With the exception of some personal favorites of mine, such as P.D. James and Ellis Peters, which
he omits, Deaver's wide assortment of writers is a real treasure! For students of the history of the
suspense story, Deaver shows off Anna Katherine Green's story (Ms Green is often considered to
have written the first American suspense novel) to provide a historical perspective, and then
continues on down the time line. Such luminaries as Ellery Queen, John D. MacDonald, Ruth
Rendell, Mickey Spillane, Ed McBain, Sara Paretsky, and Robert Barnard light up these pages.
Indeed, a nice collection to keep around. Fun reading, too! (...)
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