03 July 2014

Review: Faceoff edited by David Baldacci

Faceoff edited by David BaldacciAlthough I usually say I'm not a huge short story fan, the truth is that when I give them a chance, I often enjoy them. So when I heard about the International Thriller Writer's collection of stories, Faceoff, edited by David Baldacci, I decided to take a look, especially because of its unique features.

The first thing I noticed was that the list of contributors to Faceoff contains some of the top contemporary crime and thriller authors around, including Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly, M. J. Rose, Jeffery Deaver, John Sandford, and Lee Child. Although I'm a fan of many of the writers, I haven't read all twenty-two, and I loved the idea of getting to know new authors and characters in a short form.

But what really caught my attention was the premise of the eleven stories. Here's the idea: The authors were grouped into pairs and each pair was tasked with writing a story in which their well-known protagonists are brought face to face and sometimes head to head. So, for example, you'll find Lincoln Rhyme and Lucas Davenport in the same story, along with their associates, working together to catch a serial killer. In other stories, however, the characters are decidedly not allies, but in either case, the plots are fun and believable within the contexts of each author's series.

Finally, I was interested in supporting the International Thriller Writers (ITW), which is made up of authors who write, well, thrillers. The genre is loosely defined and includes fiction and nonfiction and covers the gamut from paranormal to true crime and from murder mystery to espionage. The ITW "promotes literacy, gives money to worthy organizations, supports libraries, and advances the genre." To learn more, visit their website.

The first story I turned to was M.J. Rose vs. Lisa Gardner, "The Laughing Buddha." The introduction to this (and every) story sets up the premise, introduces us to the main characters, and tell us the inspiration behind the plot. The authors had a couple of issues to resolve, such as how to bring Gardner's Boston detective D.D. Warren and Rose's New York City therapist and reincarnation expert Malachai Samuels together.

Not only are the characters in different cities but they generally deal with very different situations. Warren is used to the real world of big-city murder whereas Samuels deals with past lives and hypnotism. Warren is, of course, on the side of the law; Samuels, however, has no qualms blurring the ethical line when it comes to learning the keys to reincarnation.

It was fun to see how Warren and Samuels come face to face over the murder of a Boston antiques dealer. I don't want to give anything away, but Rose and Gardner did a great job keeping their characters true to form and keeping me guessing until the end. The authors devised a clever twist, kept up the suspense, and wrote a satisfying conclusion.

I haven't read all the stories yet, but I'm recommending Faceoff as good summer reading. You don't have to be familiar with all the characters to like the stories. The introductions to each short piece give you enough background so you won't feel lost. Besides getting to see some of your favorite authors team up, you'll be supporting the ITW, which will count as your good deed for the day.

Published by Simon & Schuster, 2014
ISBN-13: 9781476762067
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Anonymous,  7/3/14, 6:48 AM  

It is funny, I am a huge reader and read across genres but short stories have never appealed to me. I don't really know why. Even in school when we had those big literature anthologies with short stories, I could never stand reading that way. I am not even crazy about novellas to be honest. This anthology does sound like it has some good authors contributing to it.

(Diane) bookchickdi 7/3/14, 7:28 AM  

I saw this on another blog and it sounds so intriguing, popular characters meeting each other to solve a crime.

rhapsodyinbooks 7/3/14, 8:05 AM  

This to me seems more like authors getting together at a bar and having fun.

bermudaonion 7/3/14, 10:52 AM  

What a great list of authors - I bet this is terrific!

Daryl 7/3/14, 12:56 PM  

i, too, am not a lover of short stories .. i feel cheated, i want more .. but this is a very intriguing premise ... very intriguing ...

Vicki 7/3/14, 5:00 PM  

I love short stories, but this sounds so different than anything I've ever read. The idea of two characters from different authors meeting in this book sounds fascinating. I'm adding this to my list to read.

Unknown 7/3/14, 8:18 PM  

I like the list of authors, but like you I tend to shy away from short stories. I'm glad you're enjoying.

Nise' 7/3/14, 9:52 PM  

I am not one to pick up short stories either, but was intrigued by the paring of my favorite character and ended up enjoying this book.

Sheila (Bookjourney) 7/5/14, 10:33 AM  

I really enjoyed this one. I think it is a fun idea and like you mentioned, a great summer read.

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