Once again, the Top Suspense Group , a collective of multiple award-winning authors with millions of books in print, has assembled an anthology of some of the greatest suspense short fiction you’ll read this year. Rarely has a more dangerous group of individuals been assembled! Killers, one an all… the unforgettable characters of course.
The first story, by Dave Zeltserman, is the second Julius Katz story in the series and won the Ellery Queen Mystery Readers Award for favorite story in 2010. If aren’t familiar with the Julius Katz series, he is Boston’s brilliant and eccentric PI. The story is entitled “Archie’s Been Framed.” Archie is Julius’s secretary, research assistant official biographer, and all around man Friday but in actuality, Archie is a two-inch piece of advanced technology Julius wears as a tie clip. When Archie is accused of murder Julius must figure out who, what, and why.
The next story is by one of my favorite authors, Harry Shannon, Entitled “Night Nurse,” it was nominated for the Stoker Award for horror, and won the Black Quill Award. After reading this story you never flirt with a nurse again.
Next story is by Paul Levine and entitled “Solomon & Lord Drop Anchor,” featuring the wackiest married couple in crime fiction since Nick and Nora.
Naomi Hirahara gives us “Number 19”, a dark tale proving that no good deed goes unpunished. When a waitress with a potential for violence feels empathy for an immigrant who she sees being taken advantage of, she forms a plan.
Vickie Hendricks, who is famous for her gritty, darkly sexual stories, gives us a glimpse of her humorous, lighter side with “ Sweet Dreams.” It’s a tale of pot-smoking grannies with a dream of a Hawaiian vacation, and a nefarious plan on how to fulfill it.
Next up is Libby Fischer Hellmann with her Agatha and Anthony-nominated story, “House Rules,” a noir story, set under the Las Vegas sun that plays out like the Keystone Cops meet the Mafia. I love this one.
Then comes the master, Ed Gorman, with a dark suspense tale reminiscent of Shirley Jackson or Ira Levin. “Angie” is one of those stories that will stick with you for a good long time.
Next is the incomparable Joel Goldman with “Knife Fight”, the story of a public defender who administers her own brand of justice to clients she knows are guilty.
Lee Goldberg gives us a story inspired by traffic school. “Jack Webb’s Star” is a darkly funny story about a heist that could only happen in Hollywood. The author of TV’s brilliant, but obsessive-compulsive, detective Monk is on top of his game.
Stephen Gallagher gives us the the International Horror Guild best short fiction nominee,”Restraint,” a story of a woman who will go to any extent to keep her children safe from her violent ex-husband who tries to wreck their lives, even when he is dead.
Bill Crider’s “Top Of The World” is a sexy, twisting story of crime and punishment, or the lack thereof. It was a finalist for the Short Mystery Fiction Society, Derringer Award. It features a pair of bank robbers who share a forbidden love, and a thirst for crime.
And finishing out this dirty dozen is Max Allan Collins, the author of the graphic novel, Road to Perdition, that became the hit 2002 movie starring Tom Hanks. It features Collins’ series character, hit man Quarry. “A Matter of Principal” was chosen by Jeffrey Deaver for his Best Noir Of The Century anthology. The story was also made into the film,The Last Lullaby, starring Tom Sizemore.
The Top Suspense Group has proven with this, their second collection, that great short fiction is not a dying art form. This anthology is one that readers will want to turn to again and again, and the group not only writes great crime stories, they have presented a finely crafted eBook, complete with a wonderful cover, a searchable and clickable table of contents, title pages for each story, and forewords from each author, saying a bit about the story.