Unusual Suspects: A New Anthology of Crime Stories from Black Lizard

William Shore, Author, James Grady, Editor
William Shore, Author, James Grady, Editor Vintage Books USA $13 (0p) ISBN 978-0-679-76788-6
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The suspects here aren't really so ""unusual""; it's a fairly standard mix of vengeful women, jealous men, convicts and kooks (with some surprises thrown in). That doesn't spoil the fun in this often gripping collection of crime fiction. John Weisman's story of the downfall of a CIA operative evokes a horror that is impossible to banish. Jessica Auerbach's account of a man's obsession with his wife's death rings tragically true in every psychological nuance. James Lee Burke's contribution stands out due to its extraordinarily vivid atmosphere and detail (""heat thunder [rolled]... like a hard apple rattling in the bottom of a barrel""). And John Lutz offers a short, twisting ride of a tale with moments of dynamite deadpan humor. Andrew Vachss's entry, in contrast, seems little more than a sketch, and a fairly predictable one at that. But most of the stories that disappoint do so primarily in comparison with the more exceptional entries. The collection is largely a success, showcasing a wide variety of imaginative approaches to the genre of crime fiction. The authors assembled here include award-winners and other notable names in this genre; among the works is a previously ""lost"" short story by Jim Thompson, donated by his estate. (May) FYI: All the stories in this collection have been donated to benefit Share Our Strength, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization that combats hunger, poverty and illiteracy.
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