“ Author: Various / Genre: Fiction / First Thrills: High-Octane Stories from the Hottest Thriller Authors'. It is a colection of short stories by various authors including Lee Child. „
First Thrills: High-Octane Stories from the Hottest Authors by Various authors including Lee Child
== My thoughts ==
This is an anthology of short stories. This book is supposed to showcase up and coming new thriller writers, and get them noticed. To do this, it also has stories written by well-known names, to pull you in. At the start, Lee Child opens with an introduction telling us about the International Thrillers Writers organisation (ITW). It seems to be a self help organisation to help and support new thriller writers. They appear to have published this. The well-known authors in this, submitted their stories for free. None of the stories have apparently been published before.
Lee Child describes this as a shop window with samples of different authors. I like the idea but not the majority of the stories. I enjoy short stories if they are told well, but these are too short and I didn't find I could relate to any of the characters.
This was unabridged and is 12 hours and 6 mins in length. There were many different narrators who read the stories over the length of this audio book. I recognised Dick Hill's voice as he normally narrates the Jack Reacher series of audio books by Lee Child, but the readers in this don't say their name, so I couldn't associate their voice to a name.
After each story, you get a brief bio about the author and the books they've written or that are due to be published.
This audio book came out in 2010, but the print version was published in 2009 from what I could tell.
* You can skip to the 'Summary and recommendation' section right at the bottom of this review, if you don't want to know the details about each story as this is quite a long section. *
== Summary of short stories ==
The Thief by Gregg Hurwitz
The first story is about a young fat boy with learning disabilities who tells us about his life and his mum's attempt to get a boyfriend.
It's written as if the kid is telling the story. I found I liked this and the ending to it.
Scutwork by C. J. Lyons
Is about a guy called Andy who is working as a junior nurse in some hospital. He meets a Goth 'girlfriend' who wants to see a real life dead corpse and in exchange she promises to fulfil all his fantasies. He obliges but he gets more than he bargained for.
You don't really learn much about the characters in this and their backgrounds and the reasons for their actions.
The Bodyguard by Lee Child
We hear an unnamed bodyguard tell us about a job he did protecting a rich, beautiful young lady called Anna.
Last Supper by Rip Gerber
A husband recounts the murder of his wife and how he got over it.
I didn't like the voice of the narrator on this story. It sounded a bit cartoonish. The story itself was a bit too religious for me, with a strong culinary theme running through it.
After Dark by Alex Kava and Deb Carlin
This is about an overstressed business woman, Maddy. At the start, she is on her way to a remote cabin for a relaxing vacation. It doesn't turn out like that though.
Wednesday's Child by Ken Bruen
A man with a shady past is in Ireland, where he meets a local man named Sheredon. He gets him mixed up in a kidnap plot.
I liked the twists in this one. The main character is not a detective, but it had that kind of a feel to it.
Eddy May by Theo Gangi
This is about two con men, one is the narrator, Ron and the second is an old guy called Eddy. Ron is an apprentice and still learning while Eddy is the old hand. They are working in Brooklyn. We get to follow them as they disguise themselves as detectives, and carry out a job by extorting money out of a paedophile.
The narrator reading this particular story did a good job. He used a Brooklyn accent or what I think of as a new York type accent.
The Plot by Jeffery Deaver
A best selling crime novelist, JB Prescott dies from a heart attack. A NYPD cop, Jimmy Malloy is a big fan. He thinks there is more to his death than what appears in the press. He does some digging to find out the truth.
Eye of the Storm by John Luttz and Lese S Baker
Rob Mackenzi is a local congressman living in the Florida keys, who likes scuba diving. He is also cheating on his spouse. His wife, Maira orchestrates his murder and then makes sure she leaves no evidence implicating her.
The Dead Club by Michael Palmer and Daniel James Palmer
This is about a doctor who likes gambling. He visits Las Vegas where he meets a fellow doc, who become gambling buddies. He invites him to join the dead club.
This is a cautionary tale about gambling and greed.
Underbelly by Grant Mackenzie
This is written by a Scottish author who apparently writes US thrillers. He's already published one called Switch.
This is the funniest story in this whole book. It is about a dwarf called Shorty. He likes to hide in suitcases and he ends up being put in the cargo hold of long haul buses. When he's in there, he creeps out and steals whatever he wants from the other suitcases.
However, on this particular journey, he meets a rival dwarf named Twinkie who's there to steal some drugs. Shorty is forced to change his usual routine . . .
This was my favourite story from all of them. Mainly because I liked the thought of two dwarfs fighting it out in a cargo hold of a bus. The chitchat between them was also amusing. I couldn't stop laughing. It manages to mix the right amount of humour with action.
The gateau Conundrum by John Lescroart
An ex-Navy Seal is given a mission without many details. He is sent to Florence, Italy to meet a contact. The contact is poisoned but before dying, she hands him an old key.
The agent travels around the world, as he tries to unravel the puzzle behind the key and the purpose of his mission.
We find out a little more about the main character and the mission he is on as the story progresses. I could imagine this being fleshed out into a full length novel.
It is written as a generic spy thriller with the main character travelling around the world putting together the pieces of the puzzle. He meets a beautiful lady on his journey and there's also a chase sequence thrown in. I thought the puzzles the agent had to solve were a bit stupid and generic in nature. I also found the voice the narrator used for the main female character, Chloe, annoying.
The Princess of Felony Flats by Bill Cameron
I found this quite difficult to keep up with. It could have been the colloquial vocabulary or the accent of the narrator I'm not sure. The narrator reading this had a strong accent. I think it's probably a Newcastle accent as it is set near to there. By the end, I just about got the hang of it.
It revolves around a big-time criminal called Frank who's quite big in the Newcastle area, who is in prison, leaving his wife free to play.
An anonymous player comes on the scene who narrates the story, and who has his own agenda for Frank and his wife.
Savage Planet by Stephen Coonts
A person named Adam Solo and his boss, a reverend are on a salvage ship. They recover a flying saucer. It has been discovered in the Atlantic Ocean.
The reverend wants to use the alien technology in the saucer so he can make money. However, Solo has other plans . . .
Suspended by Ryan Brown
Howard is skiing on a ski slope when he gets stuck on a ski lift with no one around to help and a storm is coming. The only company he has is the ghost of his former business partner, Terry.
Invisible by Sean Michael Bailey
This is about a criminal who likes to hide in plain site.
When Johnny Comes Marching Home by Heather Graham
This is a horror type story. It is set in 1865, in a small island called Douglas Island off South Carolina. I think it is just after the US civil war and Johnny a soldier returns home, but he is not the same. This is narrated by a woman and the story is told by his lover. She seems very stupid.
On The Train by Rebecca Cantrell
Two gay prisoners are being transported to a concentration camp on a train. One of them has a pink triangle on his prison outfit to signify he is gay while the other one is Jewish and has a yellow triangle, but the Nazis don't know he is gay.
They end up talking to each other . . .
Children's Day by Kelli Stanley
It's 1939, Miranda is a hard-boiled private detective working at a fair in the US somewhere. A young girl is kidnapped by a clown and she races round the fair, trying to track down the clown and the child . . .
My Father's Eyes by Wendi Corsi Staub
This felt like it was set during Victorian times or maybe even earlier, as it mentions goose feathers being used in bed pillows. A lady recounts how and why she killed her father.
Program With A Happy Ending by Cynthia Robinson
This is about an old guy called Victor who has a stroke and likes to watch TV all day. He ends up being killed by his hand job giving nurse. You get to learn about his life and death, which consists of watching TV all day.
This was one of the stories read by Dick Hill. There is no real point to this, but I thought this was amusing and it kept my attention.
Killing Carolann by JT Ellison
A woman kills her best friend and then tells us about her and her relationship with her best friend throughout her life.
Chloe by Marc Paoletti
This is a very short story when compared with the others. The narrator and his father are both travelling together in a car. The father is a powerful figure in the Mafia and the son is a lawyer who works for the family. The father is now suffering from cancer and relies on his son to protect and care for him.
The son describes taking care of his father in the present, whilst at the same time telling us about the loyalty he has towards the Mafia and about Chloe, his lost love.
Cold Cold Pot by Karin Slaughter
A bitter lady called Pam tells us about the death of her teenage son and her visit to see her abusive and dying ex-husband John.
Calling The Shots by Karen Dionne
The last story is about a young man who splits up from his girlfriend who is pregnant, and then has an accident in the woods, while chopping a tree. We see him struggling to find help . . .
Afterward by Steve Berry
This is a short section in which the author, Steve Berry tells us about the International Thriller Writers association and the work that they do, especially with helping new and upcoming thriller writers.
== Summary and recommendation ==
I would say this would be suitable for someone with a short attention span, as each of the stories are short enough to be read or listened to in a few minutes.
However, I found most of them lacking in character development and we don't spend enough time with the characters, so I couldn't really care about what happened to them.
I had to force myself to go back and continue listening to the stories in this book, as every time, there was a new story, I had to get into it again and get used to the new characters, setting and writing style along with the voice of the person reading it.
There were a few stories that were left open-ended at the end, leaving it up to the reader to decide what happens. I prefer things to be clearly spelt out to me.
All the stories, have a twist or twists near the end, and I could anticipate what these would be for most of them after listening to the first couple of minutes.
You can also tell witch ones are written by the well-known authors and which ones are by the newer ones, as a lot of the well-known authors pen very simple stories, whereas the newer authors put more effort into it. I was especially disappointed by Lee Child's short story, 'The Bodyguard'.
I did like the dwarf story, 'Underbelly' by Grant Mackenzie. I will try to keep an eye out for his work in future. I suppose it has helped me discover a new author I normally wouldn't have tried.
I have therefore decided to give this two stars. It is a book you should pick up from your local library if possible rather than purchase it. The stories cover a wide variety of genres like spy, detective, horror, historical and paranormal fiction. You may like one or two of the stories due to this, but you probably won't like all of them. It doesn't justify buying a copy just for one or two good stories.