I said when I first started my blog that I wouldn’t do a blog tour unless it was for a book I was already excited about. Well, over a year later, that opportunity has finally come up. FaceOff is the latest anthology from the International Thriller Writers, and it’s their most interesting collection yet.
edited by David Baldacci
Simon & Schuster, June 2014
Where else can you find Dennis Lehan’s Patrick Kenzie and Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch, together, solving a missing persons case that seems ripped from the headlines? Or Lee Child’s Jack Reacher teaming up with Joseph Finder’s Nick Heller to settle a score with an Albanian gang about to break the legs of a crooked accountant? Not to mention Jeffery Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme assisting John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport in the hunt for a diabolical serial killer who just might have his sights set on the two men’s partners in crime-solving: Amelia Sachs and Lily Rothenburg.
With eleven blockbuster pairs, FaceOff is a one-of-a-kind treasure trove of thrilling tales crafted by the masters of the genre.
I’m not a big fan of short stories. They’re usually too short to get invested, and even when I do, I inevitably want more. I like a full-length novel to get into a story and get to know my characters.
But many of these are characters I already know, and with the added novelty of different authors’ worlds colliding, I’ve been looking forward to this one since I first heard about the idea, announced last year.
When the match-ups were later revealed, the story I was most excited for was “The Devil’s Bones,” by James Rollins and Steve Berry. This is the one I’d been hoping for since reading that both of these authors were involved. Despite the fact that they’ve both made subtle references to each other’s characters before, a true cross-over was unlikely. Editor David Baldacci describes why:
Each writer is under contract to his or her own respective publishing house. Teaming with another writer, from another house, and combining characters would contractually be impossible. Which house would publish the story? No way to make that call. And no way either house would allow the story to be published by a third company. Only with ITW’s model – that the stories are donated and the money goes to the organization – would this work.
So this volume is truly a once-in-a-lifetime event.
And “The Devil’s Bones” is a collaboration we fans have been waiting years for.
Gray Pierce and Cotton Malone are at odds at first – with the secrecy of their agencies, it’s no wonder a lack of communication gets both of them sent to do the same job – but they quickly team up. It’s a short story, so there’s not time for a lot of background, and the explanation of the stakes and why we’re here feels a little rushed. But once the action gets going, it really goes, and it doesn’t stop until the end… at which point, of course, I wanted more.
Even if you only know one character or the other (or neither), the authors quickly catch you up to speed on the important facts. The men are similar in a lot of ways, but difference in age and experience is the source of a lot of banter between the two agents, one at the peak of his career and the other retired. Between their interaction and the non-stop action, “The Devil’s Bones” is a really fun story and a great treat for the fans (and, probably, the authors).
FaceOff is full of great stories. It’s fun to sample different authors and get a taste of their characters and their particular brand of thrills. All of the contributing authors are attending this year’s ThrillerFest, which is going on from July 8-12 in New York City. Personally, I think this is a great collection to mark the ten year anniversary of ITW.
Do you read short stories? What are some of your favorites?