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Opening Shots: More Great Mystery and Crime Writers Share Their First Published Stories [Paperback]

Cumberland House Publishing
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov. 12 2001
This second volume of Opening Shots is a collection of twenty-three first stories published by prominent mystery and crime writers. Some of these offerings are remarkably mature, professional work. Others are more obviously early works, before the writers' skills reached full maturity. But every one of them is a pleasure to read, and in each can be seen the seed of the writer's craft.

"Each writer has included an introduction worth the price of admission all by themselves," observes Block. "Writers, it seems to me, are never more eloquent or more interesting that when they reminisce about their early days, and recalling one's first success seems a spur of anecdotage for most of us."

Following on the heels of the successful first volume of this series, the stories in this stellar field include:

"Final Rites" by Doug Allyn • "Don't Kill a Karate Fighter" by William Chambers • "Entrapped" by Harlan Coben • "Yellow Gal" by Michael Collins • "Together" by Jeffrey Deaver • "The Rough Boys" by Harlan Ellison • "Tole My Cap'n" by Joe Gores • "Layover" by Ed Gorman • "A Bunch of Mumbo-Jumbo" by Jan Grape • "The Cure" by David Handler • "Till Tuesday" by Jeremiah Healy • "Village of the Dead" by Edward D. Hoch • "Chalk" by Evan Hunter • "It's a Wise Child Who Knows" by Stuart Kaminsky • "Who Killed Cock Robin?" by H. R. F. Keating • "Medford & Son" by Dick Lochte • "Thieves' Honor" by John Lutz • "Not All Brides Are Beautiful" by Sharyn McCrumb • "Manslaughter" by Joyce Carol Oates • "You Don't Know What It's Like" by Bill Pronzini • "The Disappearance of Penny" by Robert J. Randisi • "A Victim Must Be Found" by Henry Slesar • "Blue Rose" by Peter Straub • "A Bad Night For Burglars" by Lawrence Block


Product Details


Product Description

From the Inside Flap

Readers enthralled by the works of great mystery and crime writers will find something new in "Opening Shots." This collection offers not only the first published short stories of twenty prominent writers, but also features each author's recollection of the trials and thrills of making that unforgettable first sale.

"Opening Shots" humanizes legendary writers and revisits the cutting-edge work from which raw talents broke through in bold and soemtimes experimental fashion. Joan Hess's "Death of a Romance Writer" offers a nifty and humorous literary twist-an inside joke- that Hess describes as "a dollop of revenge for all the abused heroines of romantic fiction." But there's nothing funny about James Sallis's "Jim and Mary G," a disturbing story with a sad conclusion that can be interpreted in more than one way. Says Sallis, "I was just starting to try and write stories that might be read in several ways, or on several levels, simultaneously."

Between its wide variety of stories and styles and its candid personal refelctions from the authors thenselves. "Opening Shots" is a compelling anthology that entertains and offers a glimpse beyond the page and into the mind of the writer. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Lawrence Block, a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master, is a four-time winner of the Edgar Allan Poe and Shamus awards and a recipient of literary prizes in France, Germany, and Japan. He is the author of more than fifty books.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Hardcover
When you're sitting in the dentist's waiting room or passing 20 minutes while your car's oil is changed, a novel seems like a hassle. Just when you start getting into the story, it's time to put your book away. That's where a short story comes in handy. Your commitment is to a few thousand words that take you from beginning to end in less than 30 minutes.
Once upon a time, many magazines published at least one short story per issue. A few - Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine - were dedicated to short mystery fiction from cover to cover. Alas, advertising space took precedence and few magazines today even consider the lowly short story, let alone a devious one. Now they're generally found tucked away in the pages of anthologies such as Opening Shots.
The beauty of this particular book is that not only are these shorts by known mystery and crime authors, but they are their first published short stories. Some land at the beginning of the writer's careers, such as David Black's "Laud," which later became the opening chapter of his first novel, Like Father. Others, such as Susan Isaacs's "Compliments of a Friend" came after a series of novels.
Editor Lawrence Block gives an excellent brief history on short fiction followed by 18 pieces plus one of his own. The stories are fun, provocative, twisted. All of this in 385 pages.
I sat down with the book and couldn't stop reading (kind of defeats the purpose of a short story, huh?) until I'd finished them all. Not one of them stunk and none of them left me feeling like I'd wasted my reading time. Block knows how to pick 'em. (As well he should. He is a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master and has taken the Edgar Allan Poe and Shamus Awards four times.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great First Stories Jan. 20 2002
Format:Paperback
I somehow missed the first volume in this series but I will have to look it up. The idea was to ask a number of current mystery and crime writers to submit their first published story. The results are surprisingly good though a few of the older ones show their age. Block cheats a little because some of the writers had been doing novels and non-genre stuff for years before the submitted pieces. I was especially interested in seeing that Ed Hoch's first story was about one his series characters, the allegedly immortal Simon Ark. Overall a collection that should appeal to any mystery reader.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mystery writers as well as readers will love this book Feb. 19 2001
By "catten" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
When you're sitting in the dentist's waiting room or passing 20 minutes while your car's oil is changed, a novel seems like a hassle. Just when you start getting into the story, it's time to put your book away. That's where a short story comes in handy. Your commitment is to a few thousand words that take you from beginning to end in less than 30 minutes.
Once upon a time, many magazines published at least one short story per issue. A few - Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine - were dedicated to short mystery fiction from cover to cover. Alas, advertising space took precedence and few magazines today even consider the lowly short story, let alone a devious one. Now they're generally found tucked away in the pages of anthologies such as Opening Shots.
The beauty of this particular book is that not only are these shorts by known mystery and crime authors, but they are their first published short stories. Some land at the beginning of the writer's careers, such as David Black's "Laud," which later became the opening chapter of his first novel, Like Father. Others, such as Susan Isaacs's "Compliments of a Friend" came after a series of novels.
Editor Lawrence Block gives an excellent brief history on short fiction followed by 18 pieces plus one of his own. The stories are fun, provocative, twisted. All of this in 385 pages.
I sat down with the book and couldn't stop reading (kind of defeats the purpose of a short story, huh?) until I'd finished them all. Not one of them stunk and none of them left me feeling like I'd wasted my reading time. Block knows how to pick `em. (As well he should. He is a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master and has taken the Edgar Allan Poe and Shamus Awards four times.)
Original publication dates range from 1952 to 2000. Styles vary widely, as one would expect. There are a couple with a tricky Hitchcock twist, two or three with a Stephen King ending, and one that features a cat as the detective. Because I haven't read most of these authors yet, I can't say whether or not the short stories are a fair representation of the authors' styles in longer works. I suspect the novels are nothing like the shorts. But I look at this as a way to pick new names for my library and the opportunity to get a taste of a certain writer before making a commitment to a full-length book
Who are these authors, you ask? In addition to those mentioned above, the contributors are Donald E. Westlake, David Morrell, Sara Paretsky, James Sallis, Simon Brett, Max Allan Collins, Loren D. Estelman, Peter Lovesy, Peter Robinson, Margaret Maron, Joan Hess, Susan Moody, Justin Scott, Minette Walters, Dorothy Salisbury Davis, and John Harvey.
Would I recommend this book?
If you like crime fiction, definitely.
If you're a mystery writer, absolutely. Writers in this genre should take a look at how these stories are put together and what makes them work. Several of the authors admitted in their introductions that a short story is much harder to write than a novel.
And by the way, if you like what you see in Opening Shots, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine published quite a few of these short stories. Both still feature short mystery fiction.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good collection, though not quite what I expected Oct. 28 2009
By Esther Schindler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great First Stories Jan. 20 2002
By David Hricenak - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I somehow missed the first volume in this series but I will have to look it up. The idea was to ask a number of current mystery and crime writers to submit their first published story. The results are surprisingly good though a few of the older ones show their age. Block cheats a little because some of the writers had been doing novels and non-genre stuff for years before the submitted pieces. I was especially interested in seeing that Ed Hoch's first story was about one his series characters, the allegedly immortal Simon Ark. Overall a collection that should appeal to any mystery reader.
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