|Cover by Jeroen ten Berge|
Top Suspense: 13 Classic Stories by 12 Masters of the Genre is the first anthology to be released by the group and is guaranteed to have something for everyone, whether you favour classic noir, crime or blood rushing suspense, it's all here.
The excitement begins with Max Allen Collins' UNREASONALBE DOUBT, an old school noir tale about a PI solving a despicable crime by a couple of young lovers. If you like the classics this one will be sure to satisfy.
Lee Goldberg, co-author of the kick ass The Dead Man: Face of Evil (check out my review here), is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. His story REMAINDERED is one of the most enjoyable of the bunch. It's about Kevin Dangler, a bestselling writer trying to get back in the game after a few unpopular novels. At an innocent signing at K-Mart in Spokane, Kevin runs into his number one fan at a book signing. We all know about about Annie Wilkes but how about Megan the librarian?
Another fun story is THE CANARY by Dave Zeltserman. Like Goldberg, Zeltserman is one of my favourites of late. His novel The Caretaker of Lorne Field: A Novel was my favorite book from last year (check out my review here). His novels Small Crimes and Pariah are amazing. Not to mention his Julius Katz Mysteries are terrific (and award winning!).
Though THE CANARY is one of the shorter selections, its one of the most fun with a hilarious twist at the end.
TOP SUSPENSE also has a few grim and grimy tales of lowlifes that are sure to twist your guts as good as any carving knife. Most notable in this group of stories is Vicki Hendricks THE BIG O. You're just going to have to read this one yourself to know what I'm talking about. It's brutal and mean and will surely leave you wanting a shower afterward.
If THE BIG O is any indication of the type of writing I can expect from Vicki Hendricks she's gained a fan.
Genre veteran Ed Gorman provides another story that will sucker punch you right on the chin. THE BABY STORE is a futuristic tale about the genetic modification of babies to create the ultimate child. The couple in this story don't carry guns, don't rob banks or break anyone's knees, yet I still found them to be two of the saddest and despicable characters in the whole collection.
It's been a few years since I've read Ed Gorman so I was pleased to hear he'd teamed up with THE TOP SUSPENSE GROUP and had a story in this anthology.
Now let's get to my two favourite stories. My second favorite in the whole collection was the tag team tale by six members of THE TOP SUSPENSE GROUP called THE CHASE. This is the last story in the anthology and is tire tearing, bullet blazing, pitch fork flinging free for all. I think if you have any pulse at all you will get a kick out of this story. THE CHASE is the reason why I love this genre. I could read stories like this all day long.
When you're finished with the story the writers direct you to a link where you can take a quiz to see if you can guess which author wrote which sections. I failed miserably. What does this say about your reviewer Wormies? Actually, lets forget I asked that question.
My personal favorite of the bunch was Harry Shannon's A HANDFUL OF DUST. I hope there are some Hollywood producers out there paying attention to this great little story about a tough hit-man and a crazy terminal dude. It would make a great movie, especially if they film it the way Shannon had me imagine it. Just terrific.
I can't recommend Top Suspense: 13 Classic Stories by 12 Masters of the Genre enough. It's pretty much got everything a suspense junkie could want.
Table of contents:
Unreasonable Doubt by Max Allan Collins
Death’s Brother by Bill Crider
Poisoned by Stephen Gallagher
Remaindered by Lee Goldberg
Fire in the Sky by Joel Goldman
The Baby Store by Ed Gorman
The Jade Elephant by Libby Fischer Hellmann
The Big O by Vicki Hendricks
The Chirashi Covenant by Naomi Hirahara
El Valiente en el Infierno by Paul Levine
A Handful of Dust by Harry Shannon
The Canary by Dave Zeltserman
The Chase by Top Suspense Group