The sculptures were all on sadomasochistic themes: nude women being whipped, bound, beaten. Just what you need to add that extra spark to your living room
— Jeffery Deaver and John Sandford
IN AN unprecedented collaboration, 23 of the world’s best-selling and critically-acclaimed thriller writers have paired their series characters, including Harry Bosch, Jack Reacher and Lincoln Rhyme, in an 11-story anthology curated by the International Thriller Writers (ITW).
A clever concept distinguishes this anthology, as each of the 11 stories pairs well-known series characters created by different authors, sometimes in adversarial but more often in collegial ways, and almost always effectively. Antonymous heroes include John Lescroart’s Wyatt Hunt and T Jefferson Parker’s Joe Trona, who share an adventure in Silent Hunt. Others, far-from-obvious matches include Jeffery Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme and John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport, who join forces in the longest entry, Rhymes with Prey. Steve Martini’s prosecutor Paul Madriani and Linda Fairstein’s defence attorney cross swords in Surfing the Panther, but end up exerting their weapons for the same cause. The strangest pairing is in Gaslighted, featuring RL Stine’s ventriloquist dummy, Slappy, and Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s FBI agent, Aloysius Pendergast. Similar celebrated duos include Lee Child’s Jack Reacher with Joseph Finder’s Nick Heller in Good and Valuable Consideration; MJ Rose’s Malachai Samuels and Lisa Gardner’s DD Warren in The Laughing Buddha; and Ian Rankin’s John Rebus with Peter James’s Roy Grace in In the Nick of Time. The idea is good and demands a sequel, perhaps one that reaches beyond the US, the UK and Canada for conferrers.
The book is edited by David Baldacci, who has written an introduction to each of the 11 short stories included in the volume. The idea was to pair each author’s iconic protagonist with that of another, cooperating in the plot to solve a crime or mystery. Some of the stories are engrossing, while others less so.
A face-off in hockey occurs when two opposing players face each other in a circle or at centre-ice and attempt to direct the puck to a teammate when the referee tosses it between them. In other circumstances, a face-off implies one or more forces facing each other, usually in opposition. So at the very least, this book (the third to be published on behalf of the ITW), comprising some of the best-known authors of the thriller-mystery genre and whose proceeds fund the organisation, is a misnomer.