Review

Thriller: Stories to Keep You Up All Night

edited by James Patterson



THRILLER, an anthology of short fiction --- where all contributions
are from members of the International Thriller Writers Organization
--- is, if you will, a literary annual report, a statement of where
the thriller genre is at the present time and where it is going. In
concept and execution, it's nothing less than perfect: 30 stories
from 32 authors, the majority of which has never seen publication
before. Together, they create an exhaustive compendium of the
breadth and range of the subject matter and the depth of literary
talent with which the genre is presently blessed.

When I think of the thriller genre, I generally think of works like
David Morrell's FIRST BLOOD, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's
THE RELIC, or literally anything Robert Ludlum ever wrote. The
genre does not immediately or easily lend itself to shorter
fiction. Yet each and every offering here illustrates what makes a
thriller a thriller. The stories themselves simultaneously serve as
an introduction to new readers while providing additional exploits
to the canons of familiar characters.

Lee Child's "James Penney's New Identity" is an excellent example
of this. Heretofore published with only very limited distribution,
it includes a brief but pivotal appearance by Child's Jack Reacher.
Readers unfamiliar with Reacher will find their appetites whetted
for more, while fans of the enigmatic wanderer will enjoy the
novelty of a story in which their protagonist is relegated to a
supporting role. J. A. Konrath, on the other hand, uses "Epitaph"
as a vehicle for Phin Troutt, a secondary character in his fine
Jack Daniels series, not only shifting primary characters but also
mood in this dark tale of double-barreled revenge.

Preston and Child, writing their first short story together
(amazingly enough), have contributed "Gone Fishing." It serves as a
solo tale for Vincent D'Agosta, usually seen in the company of
Special Agent Pendergast. D'Agosta does quite nicely on his own in
this chilling story that begins, simply enough, with the
investigation of the theft of a rare artifact and ends…well,
you'll have to read it to find out.

Obviously, it's difficult to pick a winner in a collection stuffed
to the rafters with them. Stalwart authors such as David Morrell,
Gayle Lynds and Eric Van Lustbader are featured; a long
out-of-print, posthumous contribution from dearly-missed Dennis
Lynds is included, as is "Man Catch," an unsettling tale of
jealousy, betrayal and revenge from Christopher Rice. There are
diverse, exciting stories from Chris Mooney, Alex Kava, Grant
Blackwood and Brad Thor --- the work of these and other authors
makes picking a favorite almost an impossibility.

If I had to pick one, however, it would be "The Portal" by John
Lescroart and M.J. Rose. Lescroart and Rose normally fly solo, a
state of affairs that makes the product of this collaboration --- a
seamless, tightly drawn tale where things go from bad to awful ---
all the more noteworthy. Rose's Dr. Morgan Snow is here, but only
briefly --- and to greatly understated effect --- in a story that
begins in New York and ends, catastrophically, in Lescroart's San
Francisco.

By the way, if this list of authors is not enough reason to read
this book, consider this. Each story is prefaced by an introduction
from James Patterson that talks about both the story and the
writer's work.

Now, consider this: I have not named even half of the noteworthy
authors who appear in THRILLER. If you have a favorite thriller
writer, prepare yourself for the thrill of reading one of their
heretofore unpublished stories and the opportunity to put 31 new
favorite authors on your reading list. And if you've never
encountered the genre before, set aside a day or two and feed your
mind at a rich and bountiful literary buffet. Highest possible
recommendation.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 23, 2011

Thriller: Stories to Keep You Up All Night
edited by James Patterson

  • Publication Date: June 1, 2006
  • Genres: Fiction, Short Stories, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Mira
  • ISBN-10: 0778322998
  • ISBN-13: 9780778322993