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on May 8, 2004
From reading Deaver's novels, it is abundantly clear that his style, and his love of injecting a twist into a story, would be perfectly suited to the short story form. "Twisted" proves that that is true.
This is a collection of 16 of his stories (apparently the first of a planned two volumes), some of them award-winning, all of them excellent examples of how to write crime genre short stories. If you don't like the crime genre, though, I would you against this collection. If you prefer literature, you'll find them fatuous. They are, I suppose - they mean little and the characters are pretty hollow when it comes right down to it. However, if you want a good series of shocks and surprises, this really is the collection for you. It is EXCELLENT in that respect.
Some of the stories are absolutely excellent. For example, "Triangle" is possible a work of crime-writing genius. Absolutely brilliant. Every story has an unexpected twist. It's possible that you may be able to guess a couple, as you gradually work your way into Deaver's mindset, as I did, but even seeing twists coming, I think, gives you a great sense of satisfaction. There are one or two entertaining oddities, too. "All The World's A Stage" is a historical crime story, in which Shakespeare pops up. Some of the dialogue is laughable, the historical detail suspect, but the story itself is absolutely cracking. Despite it's flaws, it's very fine entertainment indeed.
They're written excellently, in just the way crime short stories should be. Every sentence is telling; every sentence has its function and does its work. Characters are developed as well as they can be in such small frames, and plots are wrought well too.
The only problem with a collection like this, is that, when stripped down, all 16 stories are rather similar, certainly in their devices. If you read this book as you would a novel, all in one go, I can imagine them getting pretty repetitive. It is probably best to read a story every couple of days. That's what I did, and I really enjoyed this. It was a great pleasure to be lead by the hand by Mr Deaver, and be surprised and then surprised again.
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on March 7, 2004
While he's best known as a novelist, Deaver is a self-confessed fan of The Twilight Zone, as well as Poe and Conan Doyle and O. Henry and Ray Bradbury, and he admits to enjoying short stories because it enables him to "make good bad and bad badder and, most fun of all, really good really bad." You can definitely tell he's having fun in this collection.
Many of these sixteen stories focus not on the detective or forensic scientist, but on the criminal. And yes, most of them are Twisted. Shakespeare acts as a witness in a murder case. A drugstore cowboy kidnaps a champion salesman. A district attorney tries desperately to jail an murderer who has bought and/or intimidated witnesses. A psychiatrist specializing in diseases of the rich thinks he sees a chance to change his own life for the better.
There are twist endings and more than a few twist middles. Insanity real and faked. Double-crosses and triple-crosses and multiple-crosses that would confuse an accountant. Good cops and bad cops, stupid cops and brilliant detectives, organized crime and disorganized crime, professional hitmen and deluded stalkers and unlikely-seeming criminal masterminds. Deaver is justly famed for getting the details of forensic science right in his novels, but he doesn't neglect the characterization of his cops, his crooks, or the victims. His characters aren't monsters, superheroes or spear-carriers: there is only one serial killer story in Twisted, and nearly all of the other crimes happen for reasons that most of us will understand. Lots of perfectly ordinary people planning murders with perfectly ordinary weapons out of perfectly ordinary motives... but almost always with a twist.
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on January 26, 2004
Even though I have read several novels by Jeffrey Deaver, I had never come across any of his short stories and it was a nice surprise to discover the high quality of this collection. Most stories are superb, and since I have not read any of them before I was delighted with the book. But it is only fair to warn those people who have read short stories by this author in the past, because there is only one story that has not been published before. The new story, "The Christmas Present", is the one I liked less in the whole book. It seems that the author (or someone at the publishing house) had the idea to introduce a new story when there was not sufficient time left to maintain the level of quality. The story is considerable worse than any of the others. It looks as if Deaver had run out of ideas and decided to use his "usual" characters, Rhyme and Sachs, in a failed attempt to salvage the task.
The author explains in the introduction the difference between a novel and a short story, besides length, describing the short story as a "genre" in which the writer is authorized to "cheat" the reader. According to Deaver, in a novel the reader spends time and emotional energy in getting to know the characters, and therefore, it would be unfair to present an unpleasant ending. But in a short story "all bets are off" and the author will do everything in his power to shock the reader, leaving him/her awed and going back in the story to see if it is really possible that he/she assumed facts that weren't really there. This is why the title "Twisted" fits the theme of the stories extremely well.
For those of you that have read Deaver's short stories in the past and are not sure if it is worthwhile to buy this book here is a list of the stories with a brief description:
1.Without Jonathan - A woman sets up a blind date in an attempt to keep on going with her life after losing her husband.
2.The Weekender - A theft goes awry and the robbers take a very persuasive salesman as their hostage.
3.For Services Rendered - A psychoanalyst focuses his energies on one of his patients when he is bored with his trivial practice.
4.Beautiful - For Kary being beautiful is a curse; she has to go to great lengths to escape the man that is stalking her.
5.The Fall Guy - After being saved by a "knight in a shinning armor", Carolyn presents him with a business proposition.
6.Eye to Eye - Two police officers investigate a heist in Virginia and find themselves interrogating a potential witness they knew from high school.
7.Triangle - Pete plans to commit the perfect murder based on the book "Triangle".
8.All the World's a Stage - Set in the times of Shakespeare, this is the story of a man that wants revenge after his father was framed for a theft and murdered as a result.
9.Gone fishing - Disregarding his daughter's warnings, a man goes fishing in the area where a serial killer has attacked in the past.
10.Nocturne - A music-lover police officer gets involved in the investigation of a stolen Stradivarius after failing to stop the thief during the act.
11.Lesser-included offense - A wealthy killer cannot go to jail and therefore, does not accept any of the deals proposed by the district attorney. The result is a very interesting trial.
12.The Blank Card - Obsessed about his wife's loyalty, Dennis decides to check-up on her and finds an envelope with a Christmas card bearing no name or address.
13.The Christmas Present - Lincoln Rhyme and Amanda Sachs investigate the disappearance of a woman and get involved in a very special Christmas present.
14.Together - Manko tells a friend about the love of his life, how her father interfered to keep them apart and how he had to go to great lengths to stay with her.
15.The Widow of Pine Creek - After losing her husband in a fishing accident, a woman is left alone to manage their business and requests the assistance of a banker she met at a bar.
16.The Kneeling Soldier - Gwen's parents had protected her throughout her life from the usual unpleasantness children and adolescents go through. Now there is a guy stalking her and, and they find themselves in a difficult to handle situation.
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