, . . Mysterious, $24.95 (363pp) ISBN 978-0-446-69584-8
Mystery maven Penzler has gathered 17 stories from top writers for an all-original suspense anthology with results that are about the same as if a master chocolatier had assembled a new sampler box: everything of high quality but with enough variety to appeal to all tastes. All the contributors are true to their own very familiar voices. Ed McBain's "Improvisation," a chilling story of two young actresses who commit murder to learn what it feels like, is cut-to-the-bone sharp. In the haunting "Cielo Azul," Michael Connelly allows both detective Harry Bosch and profiler Terry McCaleb to brood, as only they can, about a murder victim never identified. In "Dear Penthouse Forum (A First Draft)," Laura Lippman uses an original format to showcase a truly frightening woman with a most unusual collecting mania who preys on men in airports. S.J. Rozan's "The Last Kiss" features a dangerous woman who's all the more dangerous because at first she seems so sympathetic. Jeffrey Deaver's "Born Bad" is a brilliant double play, with tight characterizations and an unforgettable plot twist. It's a joy to watch these talented authors, who also include J.A. Jance, Elmore Leonard, Walter Mosley and Joyce Carol Oates, embrace the short story form and produce magic.
Reviewed on: 11/15/2004