From Publishers Weekly
As Penzler suggests in the introduction to his latest sports-themed anthology, basketball and crime go together like "ham and eggs" or, more darkly, like "Michael Jackson and little boys." The results, in any event, are always readable. Penzler's choice of contributors is varied and often surprising: sportswriter Mike Lupica is a natural, as is R.D. Rosen, author of the Edgar-winning Harvey Blissberg series about a professional baseball player. But Laurie R. King, author of the Mary Russell series? Her story, "Cat's Paw," is one of the best, about a teacher who coaches a girl's junior high school basketball team, refers to herself as a "twenty-nine-year-old virgin" and has her life shaken up when she almost runs over a cat on the highway. Also strong is George P. Pelecanos's "String Music," in which a streetwise D.C. kid survives the problems of his daily life by playing pickup basketball: "In pickup, see, you can pretty much freestyle, try everything out you been practicing on your own," he tells us, summing up the spirit of this lively volume. (Jan.)
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Any mystery compendium comprising 14 original works by an all-star roster including Lawrence Block, Robert B. Parker, and George Pelecanos is destined to be thoroughly enjoyable. Add basketball as the backdrop, and you have a very special collection for sports-minded crime fans. Highlights include Pelecanos' menacing "String Music," in which a game of Washington, D.C., street ball takes a potentially deadly turn. Jeffrey Deaver's "Nothing but Net" is a very clever story in which gamblers try to run a scam on an NBA star but find themselves on the short end of a financial version of basketball's backdoor play. Parker and his wife, Joan, team up for a Nick and Nora Charles-like tale in which a glib husband-and-wife detective team try to clear a young basketball player of sexual--assault charges. Penzler's introduction provides brief professional biographies of the contributors. The writing is uniformly excellent, and the seldom-utilized subject matter is rich with possibilities. The result is a collection to satisfy mystery buffs and hoop fanatics alike. Wes Lukowsky
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