cover image Before I Wake

Before I Wake

David Morrell. Subterranean, $40 (376p) ISBN 978-1-59606-912-1

Thriller Award finalist Morrell, in his fine third collection (after 2004’s Nightscape), includes among these 14 stories both standalones and tales connected to his series. One highlight is a prequel to his Thomas De Quincey trilogy, “The Opium-Eater,” which presents the tragic and moving backstory to the writer’s addiction. “The Abelard Sanction,” a coda to his Mortalis books, centers on the intriguing premise that intelligence operatives of any country can find refuge in safe houses established across the world where, “in extreme situations, any member of any agency would be guaranteed immunity from harm.” Wicked twists lift a number of tales expanding on his Cavanaugh novels, about an ex–Special Forces member who now runs a security agency. Twilight Zone fans will appreciate the ingenuity of “Time Was,” in which a detour that leads a man to a town apparently set up to recreate the Old West turns his life upside down. Morrell skewers the state of the publishing industry in “The Architecture of Snow,” which involves the possibility that a gifted reclusive author much like J.D. Salinger submits a manuscript anonymously. This is a perfect showcase for Morrell’s versatility. [em]Agent: Jane Dystel, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (June) [/em]