A 2005 novel by Jonathan Safran Foer
Featuring 13 stories by twelve authors this anthology released as an e-book features a lot of variety in the tales. These previously published stories take place in a variety of settings with tremendously different themes and writing styles. Because of the variety there should be several stories that will please any reader.
Max Allen Collins opens the book with “Unreasonable Doubt.” Nathan Heller is in Los
Angeles in 1947 and is supposed to be on vacation. It isn’t a vacation very long as he is pulled into the Overell case. Like many a dad before him, Walter E. Overell does not want to see his daughter marry a guy dad is sure is bad news. What he needs is proof. He wants Nathan Heller and his partner Fred Rubinski to get the goods on the guy so that Walter Overell can prove to his daughter the guy only wants her for the family money.
Bill Crider follows with his noir tale, “Death’s Brother.” Sometimes the professor just has to help his student outside of the classroom. Professor Jon Cline certainly intends to help. The money will be nice too.
In possibly the most disturbing story of the book Stephen Gallager tells the tale of a lonely only child seeking friends to play with as well as escape from his overbearing parents in “Poisoned.” The surrounding English countryside has numerous dangers, many of them man made. Dylan’s attempts to fit in with the neighborhood kids are a recipe for disaster that will rock many parents.
Book signings bring out all kinds and doing one at an area K-Mart in Spokane, Washington may not be the best idea in “Remaindered.” Written by Lee Golberg, this story features author Kevin Dangler who has been written off by everyone as a one hit wonder. Desperate times call for desperate measures as he meets possibly his biggest fan.
Seventeen year old Bobby Staley wants just one thing out of God – he wants to see Elizabeth Bumiller naked in the beginning of “Fire in the Sky” by Joel Goldman. This Depression Era story has nothing to do with Mr. Goldman’s series featuring trial lawyer Lou Mason or FBI Special Agent Jack Davis. Still, the story is a good one and features genetics and destiny at work.
“The Baby Store” by Ed Gorman tackles a subject familiar to science fiction readers – the quest to have the perfect baby. For Kevin McKay, in light of recent events, that quest is particularly upsetting but his fellow lawyers don’t see the pain they cause by bragging on their own kids. Designer kids are the new fad for the wealthy and powerful and they just don’t care what other folks think. While Kevin is getting ready to design another child, his wife may not be.
“The Jade Elephant Plant” by Libby Fischer Hellman is the tale of a green jade elephant sitting in a pawnshop window and repercussions. It may not be a doggie in the window but Gus needs it just the same. Too bad he originally stole it six months ago.
“The Big O” by Vicki Hendricks is not the kind of story the title implies. Or, maybe it is depending on how your mind works. Either way, this tale of a woman trying to start over somewhere on the shores of Lake Okeechobee is a good one. Taking her one-year-old son, Chance, and running seemed like a good idea to Candy. But, running did not change who she is and old habits are very hard to break in this hard hitting story.
Naomi Hirahara contributes “The Chirashi Covenant” set just after World War Two. Racism against Japanese Americans is a major issue and serves as a backdrop to this intriguing story. A chance meeting might change the lives of Helen and her husband Frank forever.
“El Valiente En El Inferno” (The Brave One In Hell) written by Paul Levine describes the terror Victor Castillo, thirteen years old, faces trying to get across the border into the US. Part of a group that is intercepted by two Americans bent on preventing illegals from crossing while also having some twisted fun at their expense, it is up to Victor to save himself and others.
Harry Shannon takes readers to his home state of Nevada in “A Handful of Dust.” It takes Pike the better part of the night to drive to a bar in a barely still alive town in the high desert. The bug zapper on the porch of the bar is not the only thing that kills---just the most obvious.
“The Canary” by Dave Zeltserman is billed as “This is a simple crime story featuring a thief and a canary. Make that two canaries.” Not to argue with the author but it is also a story about a very simple truth that stretches from the lowest place on Earth to the penthouse and every stop in between. Plans for success—no matter the endeavor—are always ruined by incompetent help.
The final story of the anthology is the round robin story the original members of the Top Suspense Group created and published last year. Each member wrote 250 words and sent the evolving story on to the next writer. No polishing, editing, planning, etc. was allowed as the growing story made its way through the group twice. The very good result was titled “The Chase” and fittingly concludes the book.
Read by way of the free Kindle for PC program, this strong and wide ranging anthology is available in a variety of e-book formats. It showcases the work of some of the best crime/mystery writers in the game today. Full of rich characters and lots of twists that you will not see coming, the reads contained in this book are good ones.
TOP SUSPENSE: 13 CLASSIC STORIES BY 12 MASTERS OF THE GENRE
Edited by Dave Zeltserman
198 Pages (includes author bios)
Material supplied by Dave Zeltserman in exchange for my objective review.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2011
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