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Thriller: Stories To Keep You Up All Night: James Penney’s New Identity\Operation Northwoods\Epitaph\The Face In The Window\Empathy Mira James Grippando

31st August 2012 Literature & Fiction 35 Comments

Featuring North America’s foremost thriller authors, Thriller is the first collection of pure thriller stories ever published. Offering up heart-pumping tales of suspense in all its guises are thirty-two of the most critically acclaimed and award-winning names in the business. From the signature characters that made such authors as David Morrell and John Lescroart famous, to four of the hottest new voices in the genre, this blockbuster will tantalize and terrify.

Lock the doors, draw the shades, pull up the covers and be prepared for Thriller to keep you up all night.

Starred Review. The blurry line between mysteries and thrillers gets even fuzzier in this outstanding anthology of 32 new stories by such top genre names as Lee Child, James Grippando, Denise Hamilton and David Morrell. Patterson, in his introduction, talks about the “intensity of emotions” that thrillers share—as well as “the force with which they hurtle the reader along.” This description fits such fine efforts as Gayle Lynds’s “The Hunt for Dmitri,” which takes the heroine of The Coil, Liz Sansborough, into an adventure involving her father, the infamous CIA assassin known as the Carnivore. But other extremely readable stories, like Alex Kava’s “Goodnight, Sweet Mother,” would qualify as straight mystery. Readers who favor one category or another may at first be a bit baffled, but lovers of crime fiction in general and well-told action tales in particular will be well rewarded. Would-be thriller writers can learn a lot about research and technique from Patterson’s introductions to each story. Many of the contributors will be attending the first International Thriller Writers convention in Phoenix in June. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

“An electrifying collection . . . Prepare to be thrilled from start to finish.” — Vince Flynn, New York Times bestselling author

“If you’ve never encountered the genre before, set aside a day or two and feed your mind at a rich and bountiful literary buffet. Highest possible recommendation.” —

“The best by the best storytellers in the business. Thriller has no equal.” — Clive Cussler, New York Times bestselling author

“[An] outstanding anthology.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

“An electrifying collection . . . Prepare to be thrilled from start to finish.” — Vince Flynn, New York Times bestselling author

“If you’ve never encountered the genre before, set aside a day or two and feed your mind at a rich and bountiful literary buffet. Highest possible recommendation.” —

“The best by the best storytellers in the business. Thriller has no equal.” — Clive Cussler, New York Times bestselling author

“[An] outstanding anthology.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

Thriller: Stories To Keep You Up All Night: James Penney’s New Identity\Operation Northwoods\Epitaph\The Face In The Window\Empathy

  • 35 responses to "Thriller: Stories To Keep You Up All Night: James Penney’s New Identity\Operation Northwoods\Epitaph\The Face In The Window\Empathy Mira James Grippando"

  • comments
    4:21 on August 31st, 2012
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    This collection of short stories was very impressive.You have
    a very impressive gathering of noted authors.You also have every
    type of story that you could hope to read.Within this book there are spy thrillers,police stories,medical stories,military
    thrillers,as well as mystery stories.
    I was also intorduced to several authors that I had never before read.Heather Graham,Lee Child,Gayle Lynds,James Seigel,
    Steve Berry , Alex Kava, and David and Michael Palmer mightily impressed me.Gayle Lynd’s story”The Hunt For Dimitri” and Heather Graham’s “A Face In The Window” were definitely keepers.
    This book also featured authors that I have been reading for years.Brad Thor,Grant Blackwood,Christopher Reich,Gregg Hurwitz, and David Morrell also shined in this book .
    “Sacrificial Lion” by Grant Blackwood and “The Athens Solution” wre also standouts.Also in the story “Abelard Sanction” David Morrell gave us an update on Saul Grisman a hero
    from previous novels.
    This is a very good that I enjoyed reading.You will find it to be a page turner.

  • Renay Taymon
    4:57 on August 31st, 2012
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    As with many readers of genre fiction of my age, I cut my teeth on thrillers and mysteries with short stories, beginning with Sherlock Holmes, Father Brown and The Thinking Machine, and then working my way into the Hardy Boys before making a quantum jump to Mike Hammer and Shell Scott. Short stories in general are beginning to make a comeback, even if the venues for such material remain somewhat scarce.

    The International Thriller Writers Organization has been doing something about that, publishing collections of original short thriller and crime fiction on a regular basis. The latest of these, FIRST THRILLS, is a masterpiece, comprised of 25 stories that each possesses some quality for recommendation. Nicely balanced between well-known authors and those who will be soon, it is a smorgasbord for readers who require an introduction to the thriller genre but are unsure where to begin. Those who are familiar with some of the contributors will enjoy encountering them in a somewhat different context — short fiction — as well as discovering new authors to place on their “must read” lists.

    If there is one pervasive element that runs through FIRST THRILLS, it is the apparent inclination of at least some of the authors to take steps outside of their respective comfort zones. John Lescroart’s “The Gato Conundrum” is an example. Lescroart, best known for his legal thrillers featuring Dismas Hardy and Abe Glitsky, here taps into his inner Robert Ludlum with a haunting tale of espionage that is complete in less than 20 pages. Lee Child’s “The Bodyguard” is not a Jack Reacher story. It’s a very clever piece of work, one involving a personal security job that goes bad and gently tugs your expectations one way until you wind up somewhere that is totally unexpected, yet is quite consistent with what has gone before.

    And Karin Slaughter? Incapable of disappointing, she takes us far away from the environs of Georgia in “Cold Cold Heart,” a grim tale of domestic one-upmanship that is played out between a mismatched couple long after their marriage has ended. ‘Til death do they part, indeed.

    I would be remiss if I did not mention “Last Supper” by Rip Gerber. While Gerber’s work to date would best be classified in the techno-thriller genre, there is nothing at all techno, as that term is commonly used, about his contribution. It is instead a smart tale of revenge with an ending you might see coming but that strikes from an unexpected direction.

    As will happen with any set of stories that are almost evenly matched in terms of quality, my personal favorite in FIRST THRILLS keeps changing. A couple of days ago I was reading and re-reading “Scutwork” by C. J. Lyons. Remember what I mentioned earlier about stepping outside of comfort zones? “Scutwork”, as one might expect from Lyons’s previously published novels, is set inside a hospital to a great extent. Don’t expect a medical story, though; this is a crime story that, as with the best of the genre, serves as a cautionary tale as well. Yesterday, my favorite story was “Children’s Day” by Kelli Stanley. Stanley, whose CITY OF DRAGONS is one of this year’s most impressive books, works her magic once again in a prequel to that title. Set in 1939 San Francisco and dealing with a missing child, “Children’s Day” is a somber examination of an ongoing societal problem that continues to fester to this day. And today’s favorite story? That would be “Underbelly” by Grant McKenzie. How can I describe it without giving it all away or making it sound mundane? Well, it’s about a small burglary on a bus that is cut short in an unexpected way. That’s all I’m going to say. I wish my dad was still alive so he could read it. I can’t think of a better recommendation than that.

    I’ve had other stories from FIRST THRILLS on that favorite list — such as “The Thief” by Gregg Hurwitz and “Eddy May” by Theo Gangi — but I refer back to what I said earlier. Each and all of the stories included in this collection, for one reason or another, is a keeper. Give yourself a halfway-to-Christmas present and start reading.

    — Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub

  • kamranqur
    6:48 on August 31st, 2012
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    There are a few reasons you should read this book. First, it is likely you will get a taste of the writings of authors you otherwise would not have ever tried.
    Second, there are variations here on what defines a “thriller.” Don’t be prejudiced by your own definition of the term — read these with an open mind to possibilities.
    Third, if your life is as hectic as mine, it is great to be able to dip in for 20 or 30 minutes and enjoying a complete quality story; there are many of them in this collection.
    Finally, many reviewers here write about how the collection was weak except for… and then they name the few stories they think were best. Peruse the reviews and you will see they are not all the same few stories… all in all, most of the stories were enjoyed by someone here! Which is to say that the lower ratings are because of TASTE, not QUALITY. Enjoy the breadth, indulge in your favorites, and don’t be deterred by the selective ratings of the reviewers here.
    A quality anthology — can’t wait for Vol 2!!

  • Enough iPad
    8:01 on August 31st, 2012
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    ‘Imagine that you are a dedicated gourmet, used to eating in the finest restaurants in the
    world, and that 32 of your favorite world-class chefs come together in one place. You stand in
    front of a magnificent buffet that has an outstanding appetizer dish from each chef and you are
    allowed to sample each one. What we have in Thriller is the literary equivalent of that buffet.
    Collected in one book are 30 short stories by these 32 authors. Each one is a gem and worth the
    price of the book by itself.
    Each of these authors have written what I call “morning books.” You should start none of
    their books in the evening, or you will be up all night reading them and unable to sleep until you
    have gotten to the end of the story. The only bittersweet thing about reading Thriller is that
    Dennis Lynds is no longer with us and won’t be writing any more of his great stories.
    There are stories by Lee Child, Alex Kava, David Morrell, Christopher Reich, Brad Thor,
    and many others. James Patterson is the editor and his comments prior to each short story are
    excellent in introducing each author and giving a little background on each one. This book is a
    keeper and one you can read over and over again and still be entertained.

  • kingdollar
    8:32 on August 31st, 2012
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    As an avid reader – over 150 books per year – thrillers and books with suspense in them are my favorites!! As a long time advocate of the International Thriller Writers website, I LOVED and HIGHLY recommend this anthology.

    First of all, it allows you to sample – like a Chinese food menue – different authors. Then, if you like the story, you can search Amazon for additional works by that Author.

    I’ve discovered some new authors this way, and have had HOURS of fun.

    Run – do NOT walk – and get this book. I’m certain that you too will find many hours of enjoyment within its covers.

  • lucky luke
    8:50 on August 31st, 2012
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    I was actually looking for an anthology of mystery or horror/supernatural stories. But when this popped up I thought it looked interesting in spite of the fact that this genre (action thriller) is usually not my game. For my taste, the espionage themes became arduous instead of thrilling . However, the short story form is great for summer reading or if you need a break from longer endeavors. Also, I do think that if Pattersonesque intrigue, revenge and secret societies is your taste, then you will enjoy this book!!

  • diffirent
    9:05 on August 31st, 2012
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    This twenty-five suspense thriller collection is an interesting way for readers to meet new writers while established authors have an opportunity to thank the audience and the publishing companies by providing entries to First Thrills. “The Dead Club” by Daniel James Palmer and Michael Palmer is the best bet as wagering on death mirrors real life gambling pools. Other strong entries include “The Thief” by Greg Hurwitz and Ken Bruen’s “Wednesday’s Child”. None of the entries from the veterans or the rookies are bad, but few are excellent. Still fans will enjoy dining with Rip Gerber, Sean Michael Bailey and other newcomers and vets like Stephen Coonts, John Lescroart, Karin Slaughter and Heather Graham as each provides readers with plenty of chills and thrills.

    Harriet Klausner

  • CeaPerson
    13:40 on August 31st, 2012
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    “Thriller”, edited by James Patterson, is a very enjoyable read. It includes short stories by some of today’s most successful authors, such as Lee Child, in many cases placing their signature characters (Child’s Jack Reacher, for instance) in vignettes that reveal elements of the character’s history or character we haven’t before seen.

    It also gave me a chance to meet new characters with whom I wasn’t acquainted.

    The stories are fast-paced, concise, and very enjoyable. These folks know their craft.

    In his Foreword, Patterson describes the evolution of this book, and how such an august group of writers became contributors.

    This is a welcome offering to fans of the genre. Though Patterson talks about how unique this effort is – and it is for the modern era – for those of us with more than a few gray hairs this may be very reminiscent of the monthly anthologies of the 50s and 60s such as those by Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen. That’s a compliment, not a criticism.

    If you like a good thriller, get this book.

  • M. Bruno
    15:17 on August 31st, 2012
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    This collection did not rate as high with me as the anthologies Thriller and Thriller 2. The majority were quite lackluster given the caliber of writers assembled. It seems they dusted off mediocre efforts and to be truthful there is not one entry where I was blown away. I like aspects of some of the stories like the bodyguard profession in Child’s contribution but the story itself did not satisfy. And the revenge scenario with an ‘ever-so-slight twist’ became common by the fifth tale resulting in repetitive plots. I felt like it was cashing in on the success and demand from previous collections without providing the same level of content. Still I do not want to absolutely beat up on it – there are a number of stories here that other readers may enjoy and it could be a fine companion on a plane or beach as a breezy read.

  • Fork In'er
    17:58 on August 31st, 2012
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    This anthology is faster than hyperspeed as each of the thirty contributions are well written thrillers using the definition provided by James Patterson in his introduction to the book as being “the force with which they hurtle the reader along.” The tales run the gamut of what most readers consider a thriller though some seem more like a detective story. Included are legal, espionage, adventure, medical, police procedural (mystery genre?), romance, historical, high tech, political, religious and military, etc. The authors are the who’s who superstars of the genre though some are probably more renowned as mystery writers as the line of demarcation seems blurred. What is fascinating is that several authors are females which were virtually unheard of just a decade or so ago. The introduction to each tale showcases how talented Mr. Patterson is while the short stories display the skills of the author. Fans will appreciate this fine compilation, the first by the newly formed International Thriller Writers group, which lives up to its subtitle: “Stories to Keep You up All Night”; this compilation will do so for several evenings.

    Harriet Klausner

  • Eyal M.
    19:16 on August 31st, 2012
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    I brought this as a gift for someone, and after asking them what they thought of it i got a good response. The short story format suits the book, and a good collection of varied titles.

    This is a good book of writings by a collection of writers with different,styles and ideas but all under the umbrella of “Thrillers”.This is an excellent book to buy, to “dip your toe” into the genre and to see if you like a particular writers style and content before you deceide to buy a book written by them.

    all in all recommended for people who like the short story format, and a lot of variety.

    So a 4* rating ( would have given it 5* but the copy i got was slightly damaged )

  • Alexander Rink
    20:25 on August 31st, 2012
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    I really enjoyed the variety in this collection of short thrillers. Definitely worth checking out. After reading the selections by Heather Graham, James Siegel, Michael Palmer, David Morrell, Chris Mooney, John Lescroart, M.J. Rose, and Denise Hamilton, I plan to check out more of their stuff.

    I also enjoyed the contributions by J.A. Konrath and Preston/Child…but I’m already addicted to their books.

  • Rodney Todd
    0:20 on September 1st, 2012
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    I really enjoyed this. I don’t often read short stories, but this gave me quick reads and the chance to discover new writers (New to me)

  • Al Rojas
    2:45 on September 1st, 2012
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    I bought this because of Lee Child’s inclusion, and discovered a whole new world of thriller authors. I had no idea there was such a thing as the International Thriller Writers, but now have a new wish list. There are some strange minds out there…great fun.

  • Angel Faith
    5:17 on September 1st, 2012
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    It is impossible to publish a collection of 30 stories by different thriller writers in which every story is a winner. That being said, I found over two-thirds of the stories to be interesting and well-written, but was happy to skim the clunkers. My clunkers will probably be some other readers’ favorites, however. I don’t like historical thrillers and found that I also don’t like historical thrillers in short-story form.

    My favorite stories were by David Morrell, Michael Palmer, and MJ Rose. Of those authors, I was encountering Rose for the first time, but have read everything by Morrell and Palmer. Brad Thor is another author whom I’ve never read before, but now will be tempted to try.

    I found James Patterson’s introductions to be poorly written, and think that the next time a compilation like this is done, the writer of the intros should be someone who is still penning their own books, and not relying on ghostwriters and co-authors to get the job done.

    Overall, this was an entertaining book, but to give it 5-stars means you loved every story. That’s highly unlikely.

  • David Deffenbaugh
    6:59 on September 1st, 2012
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    I know it wasn’t intended to be so, but I think this book is a great introduction to the thriller genre. Many of the negative reviews here seem to be impacted by the subtext “stories to keep you up all night” and I can see why.

    It’s not exactly the MOST thrilling material I’ve ever read; however, it is definitely a great introduction to this style of writing. I picked up my copy at the airport and I can see many people doing the same. I think this book will help introduct a new group of people to the thriller style.

    In addition, I will be buying 8-10 books by authors I’ve never read now because I want to know more about their characters. At least they accomplished making me want more. And I should add, that’s hard since I only read 3-4 fiction books per year. In fact, I rarely review a fiction book here at because I think people should spend their time reading non-fiction more than fiction. This book, obviously, was good enough to get me out here writing a review.

    Give it a try and I think you’ll enjoy it. Take advantage of the fact that the average short story is around 20 pages and spread your reading through a month or two. I really believe you’ll like it as much as I did, if you keep these things in mind.

    Tom Carpenter

  • Kacey Green
    9:11 on September 1st, 2012
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    This book proved to be a very good collection of entertaining short stories. There are veteran writers who you
    will recognize immediately as well as beginning writers that will be stars in the future. One of the stories is about a man who becomes a former bodyguard written by Lee Child. Another story called ” When Johnny Comes Marching
    Home” by Heather Graham goes beyond being a normal civil war story. Another good story is “Savage Planet” by
    Stephen Coonts. This story describes the discovery of a flying saucer. Gregg Hurwitz writes a good story called “The
    Theif”. It tells of a child with sticky fingers. These are just a few of the short stories that are featured in this book. The authors featured in this book are members of the International Thriller Writers. This is a very good book. Be sure to read it.

  • xbziebi
    11:48 on September 1st, 2012
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    “Thriller” delivers an enjoyable volume of stories, maybe not spectacular, but not mediocre, either. The book is good fun for longtime mystery/thriller fans for a couple of reasons. First, many of the stories feature the lead or supporting characters from today’s most popular mystery and thriller series, so you’re basically getting extra doses of your favorite series characters while waiting for the next novels where they’ll appear. Second, each story is preceded by an introduction by James Patterson which gives a little insight into the author in question and how his or her popular characters and/or series came about. So, you get good stories and fascinating background material.

    I do have one caveat, however. I listened to the unabridged audiobook version of “Thriller”, and while the variety of narrators and performances were all top notch (mystery and thriller stories really lend themselves to audio dramatization), each new story began literally ONE SECOND after the previous story ended. With audio collections of short stories, you really need at least a few seconds for the final moments of one story to sink in before the next story begins. Many collections utilize a short, moody musical interlude for such a purpose, and that would have worked to good effect here. Instead, though, we hear a dramatic or moody ending of one story and IMMEDIATELY start hearing the introduction to the next story. The audio producers really could have done a better job in that area.

    But, if one is discussing just the actual book, “Thriller” is well worth your time. As well as giving you that extra little dose of a favorite character or series you already enjoy, it’ll likely turn you on to a series or two you haven’t tried out yet.

  • Yuko Riblett
    13:51 on September 1st, 2012
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    I did not hesitate to buy this in hardover when it came out and encourage readers to take advantage of the collection at paperback pricing. Functionally you get 29 stories by the likes of Lescroart, Child (both Lee and Lincoln), Morrell, Preston, Reich, Rollins, and Thor. These are the authors that have created such characters as Jack Reacher, John Rambo, Aloysius X. L. Pendergast, “Jack” Daniels, Scott Harvath, and others.

    I was very familiar with about 11 of the authors and this book did the service of introducing me to Grant Blackwood (since read all of his), Ted Bell (this made me give him a second try), David Liss, Gayle Lynds (where have you been all my life?), Christopher Rice, and encouraged me to read all of Morrell’s (after only reading First Blood). I am not going to review the individual efforts – let me put it this way – even if you only like 50% of the entries that is about 14 stories. I used the Amazon ranking system on each story and gave only 4 of the stories 3 or less stars. I do hope that they make a second edition and kindly suggest soliciting Jeff Long, Glenn Meade, Brendan DuBois, Jo Walton, Alan Furst, Philip Kerr, and Charles McCarry for submissions.

    This makes great reading at any time of year but the next time I pick it up will be in the fall with a fire roaring and scotch on ice.

  • Govind
    15:52 on September 1st, 2012
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    Great compilation! Some of the listed “newcomers,” have stronger work than many of the “pros,” that Child lists in the Intro. I read one or two a night and have thoroughly enjoyed the book.

  • Chelsea Aubin
    17:08 on September 1st, 2012
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    This is a collection of 25 short stories by 28 authors (including 3 co-authors) so you get a lot for your money. They are of mixed length and quality and, like most short story collections, you will like some better than others. You can read them in any order. You will find some of your favorite authors, and some new to you. Some of the authors are well established, and some are just starting out. I have read and reviewed full novels by many of the authors, and the collection provides me with some leads to others. Short story collections are always a good way to sample authors.

    In the Introduction, Lee Child notes the difficulties for a new writer to get started. The days of pulp fiction and slick magazines are long gone. However, ezines have emerged. The problem is that ezines and small press literary magazines come and go from the scene. I did find one editor that liked my short stories and published two in ezines – but on the verge of publishing a third, she folded up shop and moved on to do other things. So it takes some hard work to keep track of emerging venues for publishing and to match up with an editor.

    The International Thriller Writers has provided an opportunity for some emerging writers, both in this collection and earlier collections. They are worth sampling. Earlier collections pointed me to some very good novels that I read and reviewed on Amazon. I expect that this collection will do the same.

  • Ev Nakliyat
    17:33 on September 1st, 2012
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    I got this book from my local library mainly because of the fact that it includes a short story by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, two of my favorite authors (“Gone Fishing” is the title and it’s a doozy). All of the stories are excellent, particularly Heather Graham’s and James Grippando’s work.

  • SColfax
    18:25 on September 1st, 2012
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    Thrillers are thrillers, but I just wasn’t that thrilled with this collection of short stories. Many of the stories come to fruition with little thrill, as if you saw it coming. Some of the stories come off more like action movies, but not so much a thriller. While a few are “hang on to the edge of your seat” good, I found myself disappointed that the James Patterson touch I was looking for just wasn’t there enough to keep me interested though all 14 CDs.

  • PickettW
    20:41 on September 1st, 2012
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    Thrillers is a manifesto of sorts for the recently formed International Thriller Writers organization, meant to demonstrate the vitality and range of this type of fiction while showcasing the talents of a broad cross section of the organization’s membership. As such, it is a decidedly mixed bag, a Whitman’s sampler of short stories where the subject matter of the stories offered and the quality of the writing therein varies widely–as Forrest Gump might opine, the book is literally like a box of chocolates, because you never know what you’re going to get.

    Fortunately, the good stories outnumber the bad, so you won’t find yourself biting into one only to spit it out after a brief taste. Highlights include Lee Child’s “James Penney’s New Identity” Grant Blackwood’s `Sacrificial Lion”, Greg Hurwitz’s “Dirty Weather”, David Liss’ “The Double Dealer”, and Chris Mooney’s “Falling”. Each of these authors is worth checking out, both in this anthology and in their longer, novel length work.

    Among the best of the thirty tales this book has to offer are those from writers who have strong ties to the horror field, including the team of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (authors of Reliquary and Still Life With Crows), David Morrell (Creepers) and F. Paul Wilson (The Keep). Each of their respective stories deals with characters who have appeared in their novels: “Gone Fishing” by Preston and Child features Lieutenant Vincent D’Agosta, who first appeared in Relic; Morrell’s “The Abelard Sanction” stars Saul from The Brotherhood of the Rose, and Wilson’s “Interlude At Duane’s” features his most famous character, Repairman Jack. Although each tale stands alone, knowledge of these characters’ previous exploits can only enhance the reading experience.

  • Ashley Darlin
    21:16 on September 1st, 2012
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    THRILLER, an anthology of short fiction — where all contributions are from members of the International Thriller Writers Organization — is, if you will, a literary annual report, a statement of where the thriller genre is at the present time and where it is going. In concept and execution, it’s nothing less than perfect: 30 stories from 32 authors, the majority of which has never seen publication before. Together, they create an exhaustive compendium of the breadth and range of the subject matter and the depth of literary talent with which the genre is presently blessed.

    When I think of the thriller genre, I generally think of works like David Morrell’s FIRST BLOOD, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s THE RELIC, or literally anything Robert Ludlum ever wrote. The genre does not immediately or easily lend itself to shorter fiction. Yet each and every offering here illustrates what makes a thriller a thriller. The stories themselves simultaneously serve as an introduction to new readers while providing additional exploits to the canons of familiar characters.

    Lee Child’s “James Penney’s New Identity” is an excellent example of this. Heretofore published with only very limited distribution, it includes a brief but pivotal appearance by Child’s Jack Reacher. Readers unfamiliar with Reacher will find their appetites whetted for more, while fans of the enigmatic wanderer will enjoy the novelty of a story in which their protagonist is relegated to a supporting role. J. A. Konrath, on the other hand, uses “Epitaph” as a vehicle for Phin Troutt, a secondary character in his fine Jack Daniels series, not only shifting primary characters but also mood in this dark tale of double-barreled revenge.

    Preston and Child, writing their first short story together (amazingly enough), have contributed “Gone Fishing.” It serves as a solo tale for Vincent D’Agosta, usually seen in the company of Special Agent Pendergast. D’Agosta does quite nicely on his own in this chilling story that begins, simply enough, with the investigation of the theft of a rare artifact and ends…well, you’ll have to read it to find out.

    Obviously, it’s difficult to pick a winner in a collection stuffed to the rafters with them. Stalwart authors such as David Morrell, Gayle Lynds and Eric Van Lustbader are featured; a long out-of-print, posthumous contribution from dearly-missed Dennis Lynds is included, as is “Man Catch,” an unsettling tale of jealousy, betrayal and revenge from Christopher Rice. There are diverse, exciting stories from Chris Mooney, Alex Kava, Grant Blackwood and Brad Thor — the work of these and other authors makes picking a favorite almost an impossibility.

    If I had to pick one, however, it would be “The Portal” by John Lescroart and M.J. Rose. Lescroart and Rose normally fly solo, a state of affairs that makes the product of this collaboration — a seamless, tightly drawn tale where things go from bad to awful — all the more noteworthy. Rose’s Dr. Morgan Snow is here, but only briefly — and to greatly understated effect — in a story that begins in New York and ends, catastrophically, in Lescroart’s San Francisco.

    By the way, if this list of authors is not enough reason to read this book, consider this. Each story is prefaced by an introduction from James Patterson that talks about both the story and the writer’s work.

    Now, consider this: I have not named even half of the noteworthy authors who appear in THRILLER. If you have a favorite thriller writer, prepare yourself for the thrill of reading one of their heretofore unpublished stories and the opportunity to put 31 new favorite authors on your reading list. And if you’ve never encountered the genre before, set aside a day or two and feed your mind at a rich and bountiful literary buffet. Highest possible recommendation.

    — Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub

  • RegReader
    22:56 on September 1st, 2012
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    FIRST THRILLS edited by Lee Child provides a fine collection of intense stories profiling many of the Thriller Writers Inc. group’s best writings. Works by Stephen Coonts, Jeffrey Deaver, Child, Michael Palmer and more provide many top listens, performed by various narrators. A top pick for any audio collection!

  • Cindy J Stone
    0:55 on September 2nd, 2012
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    I really enjoyed the variety in this collection of short thrillers. Definitely worth checking out. After reading the selections by Heather Graham, James Siegel, Michael Palmer, David Morrell, Chris Mooney, John Lescroart, M.J. Rose, and Denise Hamilton, I plan to check out more of their stuff.

    I also enjoyed the contributions by J.A. Konrath and Preston/Child…but I’m already addicted to their books.

  • fed crimes
    3:11 on September 2nd, 2012
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    Great read for both old-time thrill readers or anyone new to this genre. Short stories from some of the best “thrill” writers around. Many of the writers use characters that they have developed in their other books. A must read for anyone that enjoys a good “thrill”. Thanks to James Patterson (editor) and the International Thriller Writers, Inc. I hope they are willing to put together a Thriller II.

  • Brian B.
    5:10 on September 2nd, 2012
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    Thriller is a platter of thirty superb, unique and varied hors derive. One finds proscuitto with melon all the way to caviar with baby swiss with many other varieties, tastes and spices between. Many and varied tastes are tempted by these bite sized stories. As others have compared this to the “Forrest Gumpish, box of chocolates” one knows these confections are neither sweet nor nutty after the first taste. These are true mysteries and thrillers of the first order with authors offering everything from two wonderful historical vignettes through detectives, spies, good scares, and even one Marxist theme spy story. This is a new genre of fiction and thereby gives teasers into these varied authors’ style and flavor. This is not just an ordinary anthology of short stories or a digest version of longer novels. I find this a well-done must read and a most difficult book to describe to others. Readers must try this for themselves or miss a very tasty array.

  • Richie Morgan
    11:35 on September 2nd, 2012
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    Thriller: Stories To Keep You Up All Night was an entertaining collection of short stories (say, averaging 10 minutes to read) with the focus being on “thrills.” This included murder so foul, espionage, and creepy people, among other topics.

    Here is my two cents. For the most part, these are NOT “Stories To Keep You Up All Night,” unless you always have trouble sleeping. But neither are these “Stories to put you to sleep.” They are pretty entertaining short stories in the mystery/thriller genre, in a format that makes it easy to pick up the book, start reading, and finish a complete story, whether it is before bed, before work, or at lunch.

    I think I would have named this collection Thriller: Stories To Give You A Boost At Any Time Of The Day And Night… but perhaps that is why I’m not asked for my input on these things!

  • Adnan Akramz
    16:41 on September 2nd, 2012
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    Thriller is like a sporting team that looks good on paper and should have a runaway scoreline but for some reason doesn’t live up to its fans’ expectations. Like a good rep side a lot of the comp’s top players are here but unfortunately on the day they played (wrote their stories) their minds weren’t on the job or they just didn’t put in the effort, maybe the coach (editor in James Patterson) didn’t push them hard enough or he let them get away with slacking off and putting mediocre efforts whatever the reason, this team underperformed. Sure a few of the high profile players still had great games, some of the lesser names did a great job as well, but overall this team did not live up to the hype it was marketed as. I should be sitting here typing this review telling you this is a five star book and these are all high quality reads, disappointingly though I can’t do that, this team did not perform up to expectations.

    Like any various author anthology (or collection of short stories if you prefer to call it that) you are always going to have various quality stories and a range of subject matters covered. This collection had mostly top writers, granted they are the top in the full length novel field and not short story field but top writers none the less. What separates this novel from your normal anthology though is that a lot of the authors have used characters famous from various successful series they have written which may well be great for the fan who has read them but those discovering these authors for the first time may well be confused at times as to what is going on. Some of the stories in here as well seem to lack a conclusion.

    James Patterson in his author introductions before each story also sometimes gives away key plot elements of the previously written novels meaning your enjoyment of those novels is going to be less, even if you did enjoy the short story. For example I have read and enjoyed a lot of work by David Morrell but have not read the books the characters are in which he brings back for his story The Aberland Sanction in this collection. I feel Patterson gave away far too much for me to enjoy to their full extent reading those novels now.

    The best stories within this collection in my opinion are Disfigured by Michael & Daniel Palmer about a plastic surgeon who along with the mother have to face a terrifying moral dilemma to save the life of their child. Empathy (not to be confused with his full length novel Epitaph) by James Siegel is a brilliant story of a man told by an empath that she knows one of her clients is a paedophile and he has to decide what to do about it. Brad Thor’s Greek terrorist story The Athens Solution is also great, I had not heard of him before but will definitely check out more of his work. Gone Fishing by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child is also a great tale of museum thieves who get their comeuppance.

    Fans of James Patterson will be disappointed not only in his plot spoiler introductions but also by the fact that even though his name is used to promote this anthology he has no story at all in Thriller. Although Thriller claims to be the first anthology for Thriller stories this is no where near the truth, there are heaps of others out there. I would recommend getting Thriller from your library but if you’re looking for a collection of short thriller stories by various authors to purchase I’d suggest Dangerous Women edited by Otto Penzler, or Death Do Us Part edited by Harlan Coben (who actually has a story in there as well).

  • Sphere
    18:21 on September 2nd, 2012
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    There are a few reasons you should read this book. First, it is likely you will get a taste of the writings of authors you otherwise would not have ever tried.
    Second, there are variations here on what defines a “thriller.” Don’t be prejudiced by your own definition of the term — read these with an open mind to possibilities.
    Third, if your life is as hectic as mine, it is great to be able to dip in for 20 or 30 minutes and enjoying a complete quality story; there are many of them in this collection.
    Finally, many reviewers here write about how the collection was weak except for… and then they name the few stories they think were best. Peruse the reviews and you will see they are not all the same few stories… all in all, most of the stories were enjoyed by someone here! Which is to say that the lower ratings are because of TASTE, not QUALITY. Enjoy the breadth, indulge in your favorites, and don’t be deterred by the selective ratings of the reviewers here.
    A quality anthology — can’t wait for Vol 2!!

  • ExMapQuester
    18:55 on September 2nd, 2012
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    Thriller, edited by the ubiquitous James Patterson, is the first publication of the recently formed International Thriller Writers Inc. To publicise (and help fund) the ITW, Patterson has compiled a collection of thirty stories donated by well-known thriller writers, all using “a familiar character or plotline” from their novels.

    Unsurprisingly, the result is something of a mixed bag. Not all novelists are masters of the short story form, and many of these writers seem uncomfortable within its confines. Some of the stories skimp on characterization, and some on plot; some work well as stand-alones, but others rely too much on the readers’ knowledge of characters and organizations from the writers’ novels. That said, there are some gems inside.

    Patterson leads with one of the strongest stories: `James Penney’s New Identity’, by Lee Child. Penney, a Vietnam vet, suffers from post-traumatic syndrome, and has been retrenched after seventeen years in the same job because of a poor attendance record. Going slightly crazy, he sets fire to his house before fleeing in his prized Firebird, but the fire spreads. Soon he’s wanted for arson – and then, he encounters military cop Jack Reacher. It’s a neat little tale, and all you need to know about Reacher for it to work is his idea of honour.

    J. A. Konrath’s `Epitaph’ is less surprising, but it’s a well-written and punchy story involving Phin Trout, one of the colourful sidekicks of Whiskey Sour’s heroine “Jack” Daniels. In James Rollins’s amusing and fast-paced `Kowalski’s in Love’, Sigma Force’s heroic but less-than-brilliant Joe Kowalski has to fight his way past booby traps and rabid baboons to loot a mad scientist’s island laboratory before the Brazilian government fire-bombs the place. In F. Paul Wilson’s `Interlude at Duane’s', unarmed career criminal Repairman Jack has to hunt for improvised weapons in a drug-store held up by a heavily armed team of enthusiastic amateurs; the action is frantic, and the results gruesome, but the tone is light-heartedly anarchic.

    More serious is James Siegel’s `Empathy’, a grim and claustrophobic stand-alone about a masseuse who suspects that a client is a paedophile, but lacks proof. David Morrell’s `The Abelard Sanction’ features a tense armed stand-off between enemy spies in a sanctuary; it starts with several pages of background, but Morrell manages to make this as interesting as his conflicted characters. Dennis Lynds’s `Success of a Mission’ and Grant Blackwood’s `Sacrifical Lion’ are well-constructed accounts of dangerous undercover missions – one in the Middle East, the other in Stalin’s Russia.

    Two of the stories make use of the September 11 attacks and their aftermath. David Dun’s `Spirit Walker’ pits Tilok tracker Kier Wintripp against the Anthrax letter bomber, and in Steve Berry’s `The Devils’ Due’ – one of the gems in the collection – Osama Bin Laden arranges a meeting with Cotton Malone and offers to surrender.

    For fans of historical conspiracies, there is Katherine Neville’s `The Tuesday Club’, in which Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson look for secret messages in `Frere Jacques’. David Liss pits 18th century thief-taker Benjamin Weaver against a cunning highwayman, and Ted Bell spins a yarn of Napoleonic-era sailors and pirates in `The Powder Monkey’.

    Christopher Reich’s `Assassins’ and Robert Liparulo’s `Kill Zone’ are little more than character studies, but Liparullo does a particularly good job of showing us the viewpoint of police sniper Byron Stone.

    Alex Kava’s `Goodnight, Sweet Mother’ and John Lescroart and M. J. Rose’s `The Portal’ are both enjoyably twisted, but Heather Graham’s `The Face in the Window’ is rather predictable. Michael and Daniel Palmer’s `Disfigured’ is an intriguing tale of a deranged kidnap plot, but needed to be at least twice as long.

    James Grippando’s `Operation Northwoods’ feels more like a teaser for his next novel – as do Gayle Lynds’s `The Hunt for Dmitri’, Brad Thor’s `The Athens Solution’, and Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s `Gone Fishing’, despite their promising beginnings.

    Chris Mooney’s `Falling’, Denise Hamilton’s `At The Drop of A Hat’, Christopher Rice’s `Man Catch’, and M. Diane Vogt’s `Surviving Toronto’ all feel more like compressed novels, with too many scenes and characters reduced to ciphers and most of the tension left out. Raelynn Hillhouse handles the short story length better in `Diplomatic Constraints’, an exciting prologue to `Outsourced’, but I still felt I was missing something.

    This book is rather like a smorgasbord for thriller readers. Even if you don’t like everything on offer, chances are you’ll find something you’ll want to try again.

  • Rivka
    19:57 on September 2nd, 2012
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    Another offering from the International Thriller Writers Inc – a very active organisation that promotes the work of its established writers while introducing us to new writers. A worthwhile cause and endeavour – this one is presented and edited by Lee Child who contributes a short story (although I am not convinced that the short story is really his thing). Some other big names have contributed Stephen Coonts, Jeffery Deaver, Gregg Hurwitz and Karin Slaughter – it’s 12 known writers and 13 new ones. This follow on from “Thriller” and Thriller 2″ in that it provides a mix of writing, ranging from the very good to the fairly awful (but that is my taste – the good news is that there are lots of them and they are shortish, so lots of small tastes!)

    Lee Child’s entry is short and nothing to write home about – don’t buy it just for that, Hurwitz has an interesting entry based on someone with learning difficulties, Deaver’s was a fun story about a dead bestselling author, Coonts was slightly obvious with the story of a recovered UFO – but there was lots here to enjoy. The one I liked least was a Dan Brown like bit of nonsense from established author John Lescroart.

    So a mixed bag, and probably better then both Thriller and Thriller2.

  • theduder
    21:53 on September 2nd, 2012
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    Not all of the stories in this book were thrilling, but it gave me a chance to see what authors I would be interested in reading more of their books. I was surprised that they could write stories that were intriguing even though they were so short. So if you wanted to find some books about mysterys this one would be a good one to get to sample the writing of these authors.

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