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Thriller: Stories to Keep You Up All Night    edited by James Patterson order for
by James Patterson
Order:  USA  Can
Mira, 2006 (2006)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

As James Patterson explains in his informative introduction, Thriller is 'a trail blazer on two counts. It's the first short story anthology of thrillers ever done, and it's the first publication of a new professional organization: International Thriller Writers, Inc..' Oddly enough, thriller writers had, up until 2004, never expressed a need to organize, but this time the idea took root and grew. Once writers were contacted, Patterson says that 'author after author said that an association was a great idea'. Currently there are 400 members whose combined book sales exceed 1,600,000,000.

Each of the 32 writers who contributed to this anthology used a familiar plotline or character specific to their body of work, and created an original short story. For some authors, like the popular writing team of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, Gone Fishing is the first time they've ever collaborated on a work of short fiction. For the most part though, this stellar and wonderfully diverse collection is a chance for thriller and mystery fans to learn a little more about favourite series characters or to re-visit some quirkier secondary characters that obviously left an impression.

I can honestly say that there wasn't a single story in this hefty 568-page collection that I didn't thoroughly enjoy; there were even a few stories that I ended up reading twice. Some of my favourite thriller writers - like Lee Child, F. Paul Wilson and David Morrell - add a bit more depth to series characters (like Jack Reacher and Repairman Jack), while Morrell's story, The Abelard Sanction, provides closure to various plot threads left dangling in his incredibly popular Brotherhood of the Rose series.

Some stories shock, (Disfigured by Michael & Daniel Palmer) some disturb (Success of the Mission by Dennis Lynds), some amuse (Kowalski's in Love by James Rollins) while still others are quietly thought provoking (Goodnight, Sweet Mother by Alex Kava). In addition, there were plenty more that had me scrambling off to the bookstore wondering why I hadn't sampled these authors' works before: Dirty Weather by Gregg Hurwitz, Spirit Walker by David Dunn, and Kill Zone by Robert Liparulo.

Whether you enjoy cold war intrigue, legal, medical, or high tech thrillers, police procedurals, or even intrigue set in the days of Ben Franklin and Lord Admiral Nelson, Thriller has it all. It's an outstanding collection of short fiction and I hope that the International Thriller Writers keep them coming.

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