Thursday, October 2, 2008

Killer Year

It has only been in the past 10 months or so that I've started seeking out short stories. In the introduction to Killer Year, Lee Child likens the collection to sampler LPs that came out in the late sixties with twelve tracks by different bands perhaps two of which you might have heard of. I had a similar thought that a book of short stories is like buying a CD. You base it on one or two tracks you've heard and hope that the other are as good. I know the reason I bought Chicago Blues; it had a story by Sean Chercover, "The Non Compos Mentis Blues."

When I read about Killer Year I was primed to get it.

The concept behind the collection is unique. The International Thriller Writers (ITW) was formed in 2004 to

... celebrate the thriller, enhance the prestige and raise the profile of thrillers, create a community that together could do more, much more than any one author--or even any one publisher.

A group of debut authors collectively banded together to achieve "creativity in numbers" by supporting each other. The ITW provided mentors to the Class of 2007 and Killer Year is the result of this initiative.

The other reason I picked up my copy as soon as it hit the shelves are the names involved. The mentors include Ken Bruen, Lee Child, Tess Gerritsen, Jeffery Deaver, and Duane Swierczynski. Three of the mentors also contributed stories: Ken Bruen, Allison Brennan, and Duane Swiercznski.

I was also familiar with several of the Class of '07 before I read it. Sean Chercover is here with a story featuring Ray Dudgeon who first appeared in his novel Big City, Bad Blood. Brett Battles is included and now has two successful books in his Cleaner series. Marcus Sakey also has a story in Chicago Blues and his first novel, The Blade Itself is an award winner.

There are a wide variety of stories - hard-boiled detectives, a con man, a couple that are actually rather poignant, one I don't know how to classify, and one I won't because it would give away the story. I read Killer Year from cover to cover and enjoyed all of it. So buy this book or, at least, talk your library into buying it. If you like crime fiction you won't be disappointed.

Consider also the versatility of the short story. Each story is self-contained which means you can finish a story without feeling compelled read the next chapter to see what happens and then the next chapter .... So short stories actually facilitate good sleeping habits.

Many of the writers have accounts on CrimeSpace, "a place for readers and writers of crime fiction to meet." It gives you an opportunity to communicate with authors and participate in discussions. Check it out.