cover image Murder in Vegas

Murder in Vegas

. Forge, $24.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-7653-0739-2

High-profile and award-winning authors, coupled with an interesting concept, should lure many readers to the table, but some will find Connelly's anthology a mixed bag. Sin City is obviously an eminently suitable location for a variety of crime tales, but the 22 entries mostly fail to realize Las Vegas's potential. Jeremiah Healy, creator of John Francis Cuddy and past president of the professional group behind the volume (the International Association of Crime Writers), provides the high point with his grim, noirish ""Grieving Las Vegas,"" whose pathetic characters would be familiar to Cornell Woolrich fans. The other engaging stories come from some lesser-known scribes, such as Joan Richter, whose cryptic ""The Gambling Master of Shanghai"" features the enigmatic Uncle Ho, a so-called ""whale"" with deep pockets interested in high-stakes gaming. Michael Collins's ""The Kidnapping of Xuang Fei"" does a nice job of portraying post-9/11 America, but a Vegas setting is not essential to the story. Otherwise, the assortment of gangsters, celebrity-obsessed stalkers and hard-luck cases fail to make much of an impression, suggesting that this book might not be the best bet for crime fiction fans. Agent, Martin H. Greenberg at Tekno Books.