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Unusual Suspects: Stories of Mystery & Fantasy [Paperback]

Dana Stabenow
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Dec 2 2008
All-new from the top names in mystery and fantasy— including a never-beforepublished Sookie Stackhouse story from Charlaine Harris!

This follow-up to Powers of Detection showcases bestselling and award-winning names from Simon Green to Laurie King to Sharon Shinn—with original stories featuring otherworldly investigators trailing uncanny criminals across fantastical realms. From video game characters seeking civil rights and a cave dragon loan shark pondering an investment, to Santa Claus’s Australian vacation and an enemy of Sam Spade’s out for revenge—plus visits to the Nightside and Sookie Stackhouse’s hometown— these stories will take readers around the world on a magical mystery tour.


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Product Description

About the Author

Dana Stabenow is the Edgar Award-winning author of Fire and Ice, So Sure of Death, and several other acclaimed mysteries. She lives in Anchorage, Alaska.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Introduction

Evidently enough of you enjoyed Powers of Detection so much that Ginjer Buchanan at Ace Science Fiction thought a second collection was a good idea. On behalf of all the authors included herein, thank you!

Most of the usual suspects are back, with the addition of Michael Stackpole and Carole Nelson Douglas. Who would want to kill Sam Spade? Carole's got an answer for that, and Michael's got a new take on scapegoats that, okay, I know somebody gets killed and that's a bad thing, but I'm still laughing as I write these words.

Laurie King and Sharon Shinn offer up ghost stories, both with a very high goosebump index. Interesting how the spookiest stories often have the least amount of gore.

Donna Andrews returns to the Westmarch College of Magical Studies and the adventures of Gwynn the apprentice, who this time saves master mage Justinian from a fate worse than death. Charlaine Harris returns to Bon Temps, Louisiana, where the vampires are out by night and the insurance agents by day. What's the difference, really? Sookie Stackhouse knows.

Laura Anne Gilman introduces us to a cave dragon for a loan shark, and Simon Green takes us back into the Nightside for a grim little tale of justice delayed but not denied. Mike Doogan, tongue firmly in cheek, magicks up a traveling salesman story, Michael Armstrong indulges in a little global wishful thinking, and John Straley tells us where Santa Claus really goes during the off season.

Myself, I went back to Mnemosynea, for another tale of Seer and Sword. Turns out I like that world so much the Mage Guild commissioned me to write a Mnemosynean world almanac. I've even got a map now. And I admit, the ending of "A Woman's Work" involves a little wishful thinking of my own.

The great thing about fantastical fiction is its ability to put any ending on a question beginning "What if?" What if Santa goes Down Under on vacation? What if a cave dragon loan shark wants to make good on an investment? What if video games achieve the level of reality, what rights belong to the characters created therein?

In her introduction to The Norton Book of Science Fiction, Ursula K. LeGuin wrote, "In a story where only what ordinarily occurs is going to occur, one can safely use such a sentence as, 'He was absorbed in the landscape.' In a story where only the story tells you what is likely to happen, you had best be careful about using sentences like that."

And of course the great thing about crime fiction, aside from the universal human love of a mystery, is that by the end there is always a resolution, and, sometimes, justice.

Put murder in a fantasy setting, and "If you die, I'll kill you!" becomes a credible threat.

At least in here. Be careful how you go.

—Dana Stabenow


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A book to add to your collection March 11 2010
By Mae
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
With all the different authors that contributed to this book, the stories were amazing and no two were alike. I highly recommend that you add this book to your personal collection.
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Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  18 reviews
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unusual Suspects, Not Too March 22 2009
By Renee Huddleston - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I went looking for this book to further my desire to read all of the stories from the world of Sookie Stackhouse. A red light flashed when I couldn't locate it in any of the libraries in our metropolitan area but, heck, I'm game! The book is neither terrible nor great. If you're looking for a bit of light reading before bed, the stories lend themselves to that timeframe. Not bloody enough to inspire nightmares nor disturbing enough to leave you cowering under the covers, they are engaging enough to help you unwind from the true horrors of our current economic plight. Ms Harris entry did, indeed, flesh out the Stackhouse universe. However, I once again encountered the only problem I have with her work: poor continuity. It isn't a deal breaker, but for OCD fans it can be irritating. (Especially for "downsized" copywriters who would love to get a chance at editing the next editions for accuracy! ;-))

Final take: not great literature, but fun enough if you enjoy the genre!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the convergence of mystery and suspense inside a fantasy realm Dec 4 2008
By Harriet Klausner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
These superb twelve new tales focus on the convergence of mystery and suspense inside a fantasy realm. The stories are all well written, holding up nicely to its predecessor collection (see POWERS OF DETECTION). Charlaine Harris provides a Sookie entry while Simon R. Green returns to the Nightside and the editor Ms. Stabenow takes her fans back to Mnemosynea for what she describes as a "Seer and Sword" thriller. The other entries are strong with deep characters such as Laura Anne Gilman's loan shark dragon star of "Illumination". Carole Nelson Douglas' "Bogieman" answers one of the deepest fundamental questions of the universe: who wants Sam Spade dead (than again who does not might be easier to answer)? Likewise John Straley responds to another question of the ages: what does Santa do during his off season? Whether it is Donna Andrews's Gwynn the apprentice returning to cast a "spellbound" on her fans to read her story or Mike Doogan a "Glamour" satirizing the sub-genre, readers will enjoy this compilation. The remaining four are excellent contributions by top tier authors (Michael A. Stackpole, Sharon Sinn, Michael Armstrong and Laurie R. King).

Harriet Klausner
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good "Whitman's sampler" of mystery & SF authors July 10 2010
By Esther Schindler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Short story compilations are always a crap shoot. It's unlikely that anyone will be thrilled by EVERY story in the book. Unusual Suspects isn't an exception to this rule, but I'm glad I sought it out.

That's largely because these authors are all household names, at least if your household has a big fan of mystery or science fiction and fantasy. (And really, how could it NOT?!) The book has 12 short stories from Donna Andrews, Michael Armstrong, Mike Doogan, Carole Nelson Douglas, Laura Anne Gilman, Simon R. Green, Charlaine Harris, Laurie King, Sharon Shinn, Dana Stabenow, Michael Stackpole, and John Straley. I've read work by a few of those authors (and I've broken bread with two of them), but I certainly wasn't familiar with the work of every contributor.

Stabenow, who compiled and edited the stories, gave the authors a pretty wide guideline: paranormal mysteries. As a result, the subjects addressed are all over the map, from haunted houses to ghost stories to fantasy worlds that just so happen to have a random dead body to deal with. I rather suspect you'll look first at the authors you already like (which meant I flipped directly to Laurie King's haunted-house story, which I quite enjoyed). But then I curled up with the rest, some of which have a distinct "heavy fantasy" feel (like Stackpole's "Looks Are Deceiving") and others a cozy mystery flavor (like Sharon Shinn's contribution). I think there was only one short story that lost my interest, causing me to skip forward to the next one in the book.

Like a lot of mystery and SF/F fans, I find an author I like and I tend to read EVERYthing they've written. I assumed, correctly, that this short story collection would give me a few new authors to seek out. I'm sure you'll feel the same way.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very entertaining. Oct. 18 2009
By Wendy C. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This anthology includes twelve stories from well-known authors such as Charlaine Harris and Simon R. Green, two of my favorite authors. I have never read anything by the others - Carole Nelson Douglas, Laurie R. King, Michael A. Stackpole, Sharon Shinn, Mike Doogan, Donna Andrews, Michael Armstrong, John Straley, Anne Gilman, and lastly, Dana Stabenow. Charlaine's story, Lucky, features the heroine of her popular series, Sookie Stackhouse which coupled with her housemate do some detective work for her insurance agent. Douglas' Bougieman is about Delilah, a PI, solving the mystery of who stuck a corkscrew in the chest of a CinSim; Stackpole's Looks Are Deceiving, Primin has been called to found out who's trying to poison the king, even though he wouldn't lose asleep over him dying. The House of Seven by Shinn features Erica, a writer in the middle of a divorce who moves into a haunted house and becomes friends with the ghosts. Doogan's Glamour was one of the ones I really enjoyed, it's about Alf trying to find his missing daughter with the help of some pretty strange character.

Those are just a few of the stories featured in this anthology. I very much enjoyed each one and I've found a lot of new authors that I will definitely check out more of their works. I just wish some of the stories would have been longer, like Illumination by Laura Anne Gilman which was about Bonnie trying to find her dad, Zaki, who has gone missing. I really enjoyed it and would have loved it there was a bit more but that's the thing with anthologies, they're short stories. Green's Appetite for Murder was also a great one, but I'm a big fan of his Nightside series.

Unusual Suspects is fill with exciting, mysterious, funny stories that will please fans of both mystery and fantasy. It will introduced readers to great new authors and help them revisit the worlds they already loved.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A keeper July 10 2009
By H. Grove (errantdreams) - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Unusual Suspects, edited by Dana Stabenow, contains a dozen short stories of murder, mystery, fantasy, and the paranormal, including a few by highly recognizable name authors. There were no stories in this volume that I truly disliked, and frankly, when you read an anthology like this, you usually expect to find at least one. There might have been one so-so story, but plenty of them were absolutely fascinating, and the mysteries were a lot of fun. If you enjoy mysteries and a wide range of fantasy, urban fantasy, and paranormal settings, then I think you'll enjoy Unusual Suspects!
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