It's often enlightening to see the first efforts of people who later became famous. Perhaps the best example is Heinlein's For Us, The Living, his first novel that was rejected by every publisher (and published only after his death). Would-be writers can, I think, be inspired by acknowledging that even the masters start out as beginners.
So when I saw this book at my local bookstore, highlighting the "first published stories" by so many mystery and crime writers, I hoped for a similar experience: Stories that were good enough to be published, but which make their authors both proud and maybe a little embarrassed (something like, "If I did it now, I'd do this differently..." way). But that isn't what this collection of short stories is.
Yes, Opening Shots is the first published short stories of a huge list of authors: David Black, Simon Brett, Max Allan Collins, Dorothy Salisbury Davis, Loren D. Estleman, John Harvey, Joan Hess, Susan Isaacs, Peter Lovesy, Margaret Maron, Susan Moody, David Morrell, Sara Paretsky, Peter Robinson, James Sallis, Justin Scott, Minette Walters, Donald Westlake, and (also the book editor) Lawrence Block. If you're a fan of any of those writers (oddly, the only one whose previous work I'd read was James Sallis) I'm sure you'll like the book, as none of the stories are duds. (That in itself is remarkable.) And as with any short story collection, the really good short stories are likely to convince me to seek out the author's longer work; I particularly liked "Fan Mail" by Peter Robinson, "The White Death" by Justin Scott, and especially Susan Isaacs's "Compliments of a Friend."
However, for many of the authors this was the first *short story* published, after having several successful books under their belt. That made the work itself higher quality, I expect, but I didn't get the "What I learned..." component that I had hoped for. Each story does have a one-page introduction, but while some are entertaining they're thin on the "lessons" I wanted.
No matter. It's still a good collection of short stories. If you're a fan of the genre, it's a good way to discover new writers you might like.