Sunday, November 20, 2005

Greatest Hits

As some of you may know, Marty Greenberg and I have produced annual Best of the Year collections for the past fifteen years. As a consequence, I read a lot of magazines and a lot of anthologies in looking for short stories for our books. Inevitably, the mystery field being a relatively small if ever-expanding field, I read anthologies edited by friends of mine.

In the case of Robert J. Randisi, he's one of my long-time BEST friends, which I need to relate here before I proceed to tell you that his GREATEST HITS anthology (Carroll&Graf, $26.00) is one of the finest collections of stories published this year. As the cover copy explains, these are original tales of assassins, hit men, and hired guns by such sterling crime fiction names as Lawrence Block, Lee Child, Jeffery Deaver and John Harvey who each demonstrate exactly why their names shine in any context. Block gives us his wryly existential hit man Keller at his wryly existential best while Deaver and Child give us some fine new riffs on the killing trade. Harvey is Harvey, ruminative and as always readable as hell.

Also notable is a reprint about Max Allan Collins* now-retired killer in "Quarry's Luck," a decorously atmospheric and violent tale that shows off just about all of Collins' enormous range of skills. Barbara Seranella gives us a steely story of head games as does, in a completely different way, Christine Matthews. Jenny Siler writes the toughest tale between these covers without ever striking a false note as so much tough-guy fic does thse days. Kevin Wignall, Marcus Pelegrimas and Jeff Abbott contribute stories that are worthy of consideration for any Best of book currently being published. And Bob Randisi's own story is a ready-made cable TV movie--twisty, amusing and played for heart.

The winner of the highy coveted Gormando in Greatest Hits has to go to James W. Hall's loopy and wonderful serio-comic "The Catch" about a guy who still charges a mere $200 a hit as long as you can convince him the hit is "necessary."

I can't think of a better original anthology published this year. Honest.

*Another long-time best friend of mine

1 Comments:

Blogger Craig Clarke said...

As far as I'm concerned, the inclusion of Block and Collins alone makes this a must-read.

7:28 AM  

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