“ Paperback: 400 pages / Publisher: Corvus / Published: 1 Aug 2011 „
I bought this book in Kindle format when it was on offer on Amazon for £1.00. I had not read a Lee Child book before but had heard good things about them. I thought this would be a good introduction. However the book is not a Lee Child novel but a selection of short stories by established and new thriller writers. Child just writes the introduction and one of the stories.
The stories are written by 12 established writers such as Child, Jeffrey Deaver and Karin Slaughter, and thirteen new ones, with the idea that we could discover new talent in a competitive genre.
The book opens with a lovely story by Gregg Hurwitz called The Thief and was about a young boy with learning difficulties who struggles when his mum gets a new boyfriend. Lee Child's offering was a very short story called The Bodyguard and was far from the strongest effort in this collection. Fans buying this book on the back of Child's name would be disappointed I think. Fellow established author Jeffrey Deaver's contribution The Plot was one of my favourite efforts, featuring a cop's unofficial investigation into the death of his favourite author and Karin Slaughter delivered an interesting drama entitled Cold, Cold Heart.
Of the newer authors, I also enjoyed Theo Gangi's story entitled Eddy May and would consider reading work by this author again, as although the story was slow to start, I did like how it ended. Sometimes I find the endings of short stories quite weak, as the author doesn't have the space to weave a complicated plot that needs solving. Gangi approached this challenge very well in my opinion. John Lescroat's contribution The Gato Conundrum is a good example of how the genre should not be done in my opinion - The author tried to keep us guessing too much but within the confines of a short story, I found that in the end I didn't really care.
Some of the more unusual offerings included a quirky tale titled The Princess of Felony Flats by Bill Cameron seemingly set in a slightly different world to us, where our protagonist gets involved with the local drug gang leader's girl. But all is not as it seemed. I noted that this story was on the short-list for the Crime Writer's Association Short Story Dagger award 2011. Third prize in the contest went to another of my favourite stories: The Dead Club by Michael Palmer and Daniel Palmer. Here the lead character is a medical doctor getting involved in a gambling syndicate betting on if people live or die.
Not all books are classic crime or thriller books. Stephen Coonts' Savage Planet has a sci-fi angle, some others have a supernatural angle (Suspended by former actor Ryan Brown is one such example). Heather Graham's When Johnny Comes Marching Home features zombies. Some don't fit any specific genres, On the Train by Rebecca Cantrell is one such example and is also one of my favourite stories set amongst Nazi prisoners on a train to one of the camps...
These are just a few examples of stories that have stood out for one reason or another. I enjoyed the diversity of the stories and the writing styles of all the authors, as I felt I was reading something new and fresh each time. I genuinely feel I have discovered some new authors, which is the whole idea of the concept. Whilst many come under the thriller or crime umbrella, there is so much more to them than that, and I was often impressed how the story was woven so engagingly in such a small space. Some stories are very short, some seem a bit longer than others, and some you wish were a lot longer! Obviously in a collection of twenty five stories written by twenty five different people, there will be some that don't grab you as much as others. However, all stories are of a high standard, and I think most fans of the genre will find some stories that they love in here.
Currently it is being sold on Kindle for £3.99 and paperback for £5.59 on Amazon.