Plot or Premise
What I Liked
- Elizabeth George: The Evidence Exposed — An Agatha-Christie-type story, with an excursion to study British architecture. Stereotype characters but with great twists, and lots of Christie-like turns for explaining possible motivations;
- Carolyn G. Hart: Upstaging Murder — A mystery weekend starts to look a little more sinister when one of the guests tries to get a jump on the competition with a little sleuthing, and sees one of the actors replace blanks in a gun with real bullets;
- Sarah Shankman: Say You’re Sorry — A terrible vengeance is exacted for a horror committed years before between two friends, one with money, and one without who is forced to follow the oldest profession to support herself;
- Marilyn Wallace: A Tale of Two Pretties — A woman facing imprisonment finds a way out, another woman who could be her twin. Simple solution: pay the other woman to just change lives until the imprisonment is over. And the other woman is willing because she’s looking at waiting for her lover to get out of prison himself, and she can’t stand being alone. Something about the best laid plans though;
- Carolyn Wheat,: Life, For Short — A woman in the hospital wants to die, and an angel-of-death orderly on a mercy mission stalks the hospital. Will they meet before its too late? Or will they meet too early? A little darker ending; and,
- Joyce Carol Oates: Extenuating Circumstances — This is a strange story, both in tone and in format. The story is a list of reasons that a woman has left her husband so he will know why she did some nasty deeds. Somewhat disturbing.
Other good ones in the collection include Mary Higgins Clark (Voices in the Coalbin — suicidal wife hears voices in the coalbin); Dorothy Cannell (The High Cost of Living — siblings against their step-mother); Sara Paretsky (The Maltest Cat — missing sister and her cat); Wendy Hornsby (Nine Sons — woman with nine boys is pregnant with 10th kid); Margaret Manon (Lieutenant Harald and the Impossible Gun — bullet from gun that has an alibi); Sharyn McCrumb (A Predatory Woman — reporter interfering child murderer about to be paroled); and Dianne Mott Davidson (Cold Turkey — caterer with a body in her fridge).
What I Didn’t Like
A few of the stories are just not quite as good as the rest of the collection including Nancy Pickard (Afraid All The Time — skittish city girl living in country); Marcia Muller (All the Lonely People — private-eye investigating dating service); Julie Smith (Blood Type — holographic wills and imminent deaths); Gillian Roberts (Hog Heaven — an aging but forgetful Romeo); Susan Dunlap (The Celestial Buffet — gourmands after death); Joan Hess (Too Much To Bare — woman wants revenge for cheating); Sue Grafton (A Poison That Leaves No Trace — death of a sister who competed with daughter); and Gabrielle Kraft (One Hit Wonder — ex-singer, now bartender, is tempted by couple up to no good).
The Bottom Line
Eclectic but solid collection.