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by Lee Child, ed.
Simon and Schuster, June 2017
464 pages
ISBN: 1501141597

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Twenty-two thriller writers have paired up to write eleven short stories for the latest anthology by the International Thriller Writers (ITW). But this anthology, edited by Lee Child, comes with a twist—each story is written by one female and one male writer.

The male/female author pairings are more of a gimmick, and it's really the pairing of their characters that make these short stories interesting. In the real world, or even the world of fiction, many of these characters would never have met. This adds an extra challenge for some of the writing pairs—and makes it fun for readers who know these characters.

For example, in "Past Prologue," by Diana Gabaldon and Steve Berry, Berry's Cotton Malone has to go back in time to interact with some of Gabaldon's creations from her hugely successful time-traveling Outlander series. In this short story, Cotton, a retired covert agent-turned-bookshop owner, travels to Scotland for a rare book auction, taking an unintended trip into the 1700s.

Other improbable pairings show up. In "Faking a Murderer," Kathy Reich's Temperance Brennan and Lee Child's Jack Reacher don't seem like they would have gotten along—even if they did meet. But Reacher, passing through the Washington, DC area, comes to Brennan's aid when she is suspected in a murder. Once you read this short story, the partnership makes perfect sense.

Charlaine Harris, who has authored several series (including the popular Sookie Stackhouse and Aurora Teagarden) teams up with Andrew Gross, who wrote for James Patterson and now writes what he calls "suburban thrillers." Gross' Ty Hauck, a hardened former Connecticut detective, teams up with Harris' Harper Connelly, a young woman who can locate dead bodies and visualize their last moments. In "Dig Here," they travel to Alexandria, Egypt, investigating the disappearance of a young woman.

An even stronger paranormal story comes from Lara Adrian and Christopher Rice. Adrian's Lucan Thorne, a vampire, pairs up with Rice's Lilliane Williams, another immortal supernatural, in "Midnight Flame," which is set in New Orleans. There's a fun nod to Anne Rice, Christopher's mother, in the story.

Two powerhouse thriller writers, Lisa Scottoline and Nelson DeMille, team up in "Getaway." Scottoline's Bennie Rosato and DeMille's John Corey both end up, alone, in neighboring lake cabins in the Adirondacks. When Rosato runs into suspicious goings-on in the woods, Corey is the only person she can turn to.

Other thriller writers in the anthology included Sandra Brown, C.J. Brown, Val McDermid, Peter James, Gayle Lynds, David Morrell, Karin Slaughter, Michael Koryta, Lisa Jackson, John Sandford, J.A. Jance, and Eric Van Lustbader.

Those who are familiar with the characters will enjoy watching them interact with other fictional worlds, while introductions to unfamiliar characters may give readers a taste for more. It's another strong anthology from ITW.

§ Lourdes Venard is an independent editor who divides her time between New York and Maui.

Reviewed by Lourdes Venard, July 2017

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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