24 of 74 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
This disappointing anthology confuses "mystery" with turgidly written sordidness. If you are looking for ratiocination, deduction - or even civility - look elsewhere. Few of the stories in this collection were readable, as most of them comprised emotive, profanity-laced, hyperbolic ineptly written dialect and bombast. The characters tended to be borderline retarded, and the prose was overwrought. Previous anthologies in this series usually had a couple of well-written and thought-provoking stories, but not this one. None of the stories here raises a puzzle to be solved by the reader, for example.
My favorite was T-Bird by John Bond, which did an excellent job portraying the life of a professional poker player and which deftly tied together the poker and the action. This was a reasonably interesting and well-written story, but its company kind of dragged it down.
Here are my individual reviews of each story:
Stab, by Chris Adrian. I gave up after the first few rather disgusting pages.
Solomon's Alley, by Robert Andrews. I lasted half-a-page, until those gratuitous profanites that mark the inept writer.
Keller's Double Dribble, by Lawrence Block. I lasted until the second page of this one, when a clumsy conversation between a customer and a waiter in an Indian restaurant ("You wish to sweat" "I wish to suffer" etc.) ruined it for me.
T-Bird, by John Bond. Powerful and well-written, particularly if you are interested in poker. A terrific evocation of the characters in a poker room.
A Season of Regret, James Lee Burke. I skimmed this one. Seemed unremarkable.
The Timing of Unfelt Smiles, by John DuFresne. Didn't make it past the disgusting first half-page. Seems like a typically inept job, confusing goriness with skill.
Gleason, by Louise Erdrich. Readable and not entirely uninteresting character study based on a Fargo scenario.
Chellini's Solution, by Jim Fusilli. I skipped this one, which seemed a bit overwrought based on the first couple of sentences.
Where Will You Go When Your Skin Cannot Contain You, by William Gay. One of those stories written in some odd diction, I lasted maybe a page.
Take the Man's Pay, by Robert Knightly. The first line of dialogue is "What's up wit' Charlie Chang?" and it did not appear to improve. Maybe a page before I gave up.
One True Love by Laura Lippman. Quit after pointless profanity in the first paragraph.
The Spot, by David Means. A "funny diction" story, which I gave up on within a page.
Rodney Valen's Second Life. Another "funny diction" story, interlaced with profanity - I don't think I made it to the end of the first incoherent paragraph.
Meadowlands, by Joyce Carol Oates. I could not believe this story used the word "sweetheart" in dialogue twice in the first page - I didn't last longer. Strange diction too.
Jakob Loomis, by Jason Ockert. I skimmed it, seemed somewhat pointlessly gory and unsubtle.
Queeny, by Ridley Pearson. Excellent first paragraph leading into a concise and well-written story that raises intriguing questions.
Lucy Had a List, by John Sandford. Lot of profanity in the few pages I made it through in this one.
The True History, by Brent Spencer. Seemed overwritten from the first paragraph, I didn't get past that.
Pinwheel, by Scott Wolven. Well-written, interesting plot, but a jejune finale.