Review of Top Suspense: 13 Classic Stories, 12 Masters of the Genre


Top Suspense: 13 Classic Stories, 12 Masters of the Genre
Contributors: Max Allan Collins, Bill Crider, Stephen Gallagher, Lee Goldberg, Joel Goldman, Ed Gorman, Libby Fischer Hellmann, Vicki Hendricks, Naomi Hirahara, Paul Levine, Harry Shannon, Dave Zeltserman, Top Suspense Group

Fiction – short stories
Rated: Very Good (****)
Review by: Lisa Haselton

Short story collections are excellent for finding new authors and new genres of writing that intrigue. An anthology is a small investment that lets you enter worlds you might not otherwise find. I’m a suspense and thriller fan, so when asked if I’d review Top Suspense: 13 Classic Stories in return for a complimentary copy of the e-book, I agreed. I have not been compensated for this review.

The variety of stories offered in this collection is a great introduction to the suspense genre. The stories are unique and I appreciate the type of suspense each offers. It’s like going to a dessert buffet and being able to sample everything from slices of fresh fruit to a triple-decker decadent chocolate slice of cake. After all the sampling, you may find you still have a dessert (genre) of choice, but you may have found one or two new desserts to add to the menu. There can’t be any regret in expanding your palate for one evening.

The authors are aptly described as ‘masters,’ and ‘are all widely-acclaimed, multiple-award-winning professionals.’ It’s a credit to the genre to have 12 such masters of suspense all in one collection.

Because the stories are so different from each other, I found I needed to pause between them and reset my mind before moving on. A cleansing of my palate, so to speak. Stories cover the gamut from early 1900s to futuristic, desert to city, day to night, love to hate, hopes to obsessions, and gut reaction to well-detailed plan. A few stories end with the main character having an “Oh, crap, this is not going to end well,” epiphany. I find those entertaining, especially when I don’t see them coming.

“Unreasonable Doubt” by Max Allan Collins is a great lead story. Discovering it’s based on a true story increased the entertainment value. “Death’s Brother” by Bill Crider grabbed me with an early unexpected twist. “Poisoned” by Stephen Gallagher caught me by surprise at the end, as did “Remaindered” by Lee Goldberg. I think I had the “Oh crap” epiphany the same time the main character did. “Fire in the Sky” by Joel Goldman has two storylines combine into one like a flame upon a path of gasoline. “The Baby Store” by Ed Gorman crept me out, I admit. “The Jade Elephant” by Libby Fischer Hellmann went one step too far in its conclusion for my suspension of disbelief. “The Big O” by Vicki Hendricks doesn’t do much to raise opinions of trailer park living, but the climax (pun not intended, but it’s appropriate) was palpable and satisfying. “The Chirashi Covenant” by Naomi Hirahara is one of those stories where I think “that could happen in real life.” “El Valiente en el Infierno” by Paul Levine entertains with its young protagonist. “A Handful of Dust” by Harry Shannon is one of my favorites in this collection. “The Canary” by Dave Zeltserman had me chuckling with the main character at the end. And I feel the 6-author round-robin story that wraps up the anthology is well-done. The reveal of which authors wrote which 250-word portion is a fun test and exploration of the various writing styles.

I have to admit my disappointment in knowing that out of the 13 stories, only 4 were never published before this anthology: “Unreasonable Doubt,” “Fire in the Sky,” “The Canary,” and the 6-author group story, “The Chase.” I was surprised to find as many editing issues as I did, but I’m sure the mistakes will be corrected, if they haven’t been already.

Top Suspense: 13 Classic Stories delivers as the title says – classic stories. If none of the authors are familiar to you, you may find a new author to read. If you’re already a fan of one or more, reading a short story from a novelist can satisfy your need for a good read before the next novel comes out.

Stop by the Web site to read more about the suspense authors in this anthology, as well as others: http://topsuspensegroup.com.

Title: Top Suspense: 13 Classic Stories, 12 Masters of the Genre
Contributors: Max Allan Collins, Bill Crider, Stephen Gallagher, Lee Goldberg, Joel Goldman, Ed Gorman, Libby Fischer Hellmann, Vicki Hendricks, Naomi Hirahara, Paul Levine, Harry Shannon, Dave Zeltserman, Top Suspense Group
Publisher: Top Suspense Group
Pages: 198
Price: $2.99 Kindle and Nook

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