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Deaver, Jeffery, ed. A century of great suspense stories.

Berkley. 590p. c2001. 0-42518757-8. $16.00. SA

Suspense, mystery, and horror lovers will appreciate this thick paperback chock full of suspense stories by authors such as Ellery Queen, Sara Paretsky, Miekey Spillane, and Rex Stout. Jeffery Deaver, author of The Bone Collector, edited the collection of 36 tales, which had been originally published in various mystery magazines.

Brilliant examples of classic tough-talking rat-a-tat suspense writing are found in entertaining stories such as Fredric Brown's "The Wench is Dead" and James M. Cain's "Cigarette Girl." I must admit, I am not a fan of the suspense stories containing hardboiled private eyes and dames with gorgeous gains up to their neck, so I was very surprised and pleased with the range of plots and writing styles of the selections. I particularly liked Stephen King's "Quitters, Inc.," in which a man unwittingly hires a mobster's help in quitting smoking--with potentially deadly results.

Sharyn McCrumb's "Among My Souvenirs" is a surprisingly poignant tale of a tired, fading cocktail waitress who meets her former teenaged idol, Devlin Robey, an aging heartthrob singer who needs to pay off some gambling debts, quickly. Deaver also includes one of his own stories in the collection, "The Weekender," a well-crafted story about a robbery gone wrong, and how the robbers' hostage, a salesman, tries to sweet-talk his way out of the situation. Many of these stories are well written and entertaining, but (not surprisingly!) there are themes of sex and violence throughout this book. It is interesting to note that stories by two of the authors on the front cover, Reginald Hill and Patricia Highsmith, are nowhere to be found in this volume. I would recommend this book to fans of suspense, horror, and mysteries; a few of the stories may even be of interest to people who don't care for those genres. Janice Bees, Chicago, IL
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Author:Bees, Janice
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 2003
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