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Powers of Detection: Stories of Mystery & Fantasy Mass Market Paperback – December 26, 2006

3.9 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This uneven all-original story anthology, edited by Edgar-winner Stabenow, showcases 12 authors from both the mystery and fantasy fields. Highly original tales include Anne Perry's "The Judgment," which presents a trial for murder by witchcraft in a stunning new moral light; Alaska-based Michael Armstrong's "The Boy Who Chased Seagulls," which sensitively reworks an Aleut legend of crime and punishment; and Anne Bishop's "The Price," which offers gender-reversal with a vengeance. Deft irony pervades Laura Anne Gilman's ESP-ridden "Palimpsest," but other attempts at shape-shifting hard-boiled detectives and cunning criminals into fantasy realms are less successful. Simon R. Green's gloomy "The Nightside, Needless to Say" and Jay Caselberg's "Cairene Dawn" seem forced, though Caselberg has a whopper of a closing line, while John Straley's stomach-wrenching raven story, "Lovely," has a lot of gore and little saving grace. Mike Doogan's "The Death of Clickclickwhistle," an interstellar romp, has its Star Trek roots showing, and both Donna Andrews's "Cold Spell" and Sharon Shinn's "The Sorcerer's Assassin" suggest Harry Potter's Hogwarts without the special effects. Stabenow's own "Justice Is a Two-Edged Sword," her first sally into sword and sorcery, treads ground already familiar from a multitude of feminist quest trilogies.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Enjoyable-truly worth checking out for fans of fantasy mysteries. -- Locus

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Ace (December 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 044101464X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441014644
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 0.8 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,799,023 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Madelyn Pryor VINE VOICE on January 20, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Powers of Detection collects 12 short stories that are an innovative blend of fantasy and mystery. Using a fantasy backgrounds for who-done-its not only makes for a fun read, it is also quite practical as this anthology should appeal to both mystery fans and fantasy fans. My mother is the former, I am the later and we both liked this book.

Many brilliant authors lend delicious stories to this work. My favorite, without question, was the Simon R Green story "The Nightside, Needless to Say". Of course, I'm prejudiced, I love Green's Nightside series. With this story he leaves Taylor behind, and instead introduces a new (and just as dysfunctional) PI. Though only slightly familiar by Anne Bishop's previous work, I found her story "The Price" to be intriguing and quite well done. "The Death of ClickClickWhistle" by Mike Doogan was so well written and funny that I am seeking out other works of his just because of this tale.

Only one of the stories failed to truly captivate me, and that was "The Boy Who Chased Seagulls" by Michael Armstrong. It also isn't really a mystery, so I'm not sure how/why it was included in this anthology. It is much more a modern fable and a mystery story.

The other eight stories are "Cold Spell" by Donna Andrews, "Lovely" by John Straley, "Fairy Dust" by Charlaine Harris, "The Judgment" by Anne Perry, "The Sorcerer's Assassin" by Sharon Shinn, "Palimpsest" by Laura Anne Gilman, "Cairene Dawn" by Jay Caselberg, and "Justice is a Two-edged Sword" by Dana Stabenow.

Though one of the stories is less than excellent, the rest of the volume is spectacular. Though small at only twelve stories, this anthology is still well worth the price because the quality is superb. If you like anthologies or mystery or fantasy, then treat yourself to this wonderful work.

Highly Recommended.
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Format: Paperback
These tales range from series continuations, like Simon R Green's Nightside and Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire series to what seem to be standalone stories - I am not sure, but if they are continuations of series, they are done quite well. I don't believe that you need to have read any of the above mentioned series to understand these stories.

There is only one Sci Fi story in the bunch - all the rest are fantasy mysteries. Lots of murder, lots of dun-da-dun-dun logic, solving the mysteries. In fact, though I'm not a serious fan of the mystery genre, I found most of the stories in this book to be quite enjoyable.

Overall, since it's easy to put down - there are 12 separate stories under 220 or so pages - I recommend this book for those who love to read fantasy but don't have time for the epics these days.

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Format: Paperback
I loved this short-story collection full of writers that mix mystery with fantasy. The twelve stories in Powers of Detection are fresh, imaginative and original. You will read about vampires, werewolves, fairies and other supernatural creatures with just the right touch of suspense without overloading the stories with too much plotline. My favorites are Anne Bishop's "The Price," Donna Andrews's "Cold Spell," John Staley's "Lovely" (the goriest in the book), Michael Armstrong's "The Boy Who Chased Seagulls," and my favorite one, Charlaine Harris's "Fairy Dust," which is taken from the Sookie Stackhouse series.

There are stories that focus on the fantasy/paranormal aspects while others lean more toward mystery. There are also those that come across as too Harry Potter-like for my taste while others have a lot of gore. But my favorite of all, as said earlier, is Charlaine Harris's effort. I love the Sookie Stackhouse series and Harris didn't let me down with her contribution to this book. All in all, this is a great short-story collection. Perfect for Halloween! If you like mysteries with fantasy as the subgenre (or vice versa), then don't hesitate to pick up Powers of Detection.
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Format: Paperback
When Dana Stabenow's first attempt at sword and sorcery came out too long for a murder-in-a-fantasy-setting anthology being put together by another editor, she decided to put together an anthology of her own. She asked for tales of murder in either a fantasy or science fiction setting, and a host of talented authors, including such well-known names as Simon R. Green, Charlaine Harris, Anne Perry, and Anne Bishop responded. While only one author, Mike Doogan, took the science fiction approach, the twelve stories assembled here in Powers of Detection: Stories of Mystery & Fantasy cover a wide range of settings and situations, some of them more magical than others. There is not a bad story in the lot, although a few are rather predictable and borderline pedantic.

Donna Andrews gets the ball rolling quite well with "Cold Spell," an entertaining murder mystery (in which the victim dies of a knife wound without having been stabbed) puzzled out by a master wizard with a bad cold and his surprisingly capable apprentice. Simon R. Green takes us to "The Nightside, Needless to Say," where a detective wakes up dead and works to solve his own murder. It's fluff, but it's fun fluff purely in the vein of Green's Nightside milieu. In John Straley's "Lovely," the detecting is done by a raven - he doesn't care who did what to whom and why; he just wants to be there when the bad guy murders another potentially juicy meal. Anne Bishop, author of the fantastic Black Jewels Trilogy, provides the bloodiest case of murder and mayhem, as befitting the sort of activities often found in the world of the Blood, where "The Price" must always be paid in the end.
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