Many people don't read short stories, but when there's a collection by some of the new, innovative crime writers, it demands attention. When Lee Child, author of the bestselling Jack Reacher novels, edits a collection called Killer Year: Stories to Die For...From the Hottest New Crime Writers, fans of crime fiction should pay attention.
Child refers to this anthology as a sampler. There are stories by thirteen new authors, and three with more familiar names, such as Ken Bruen. The thirteen authors all had their first novels published in 2007. They banded together to create some buzz about their work, forming a group to publicize Killer Year 2007. They also wrote a blog to encourage each other other, and generate some noise in the thriller world. Their work was good enough, and their buzz loud enough to attract the attention of International Thriller Writers (ITW). Members offered to act as mentors and introduce the authors to the world.
The anthology serves to introduce the authors as a group. I found a few of the works particularly fascinating, and I'll be looking for the books by those authors. Brett Battles' story, "Perfect Gentleman," is set in the Philippines after the American forces moved out. I felt sympathy for Robert Gregory Browne's ex-cop, Jennings, in "Bottom Deal." Gregg Olsen's "The Crime of My Life" appears to be a tantalizing glimpse into his life as a true crime writer. If you enjoy thrillers, there are probably at least a couple stories that will suck you in.
There are enough stories here to interest any reader of dark crime fiction. It's a compelling book, hard to put down. The writers have created characters and scenarios that capture the imagination. The narrators are detectives, killers, and even victims. Killer Year provides the perfect opportunity to discover new authors in the crime field. Or, as bestselling author Laura Lippman says, the "young writers heading straight for a life of crime."
The Killer Year Blog is at killeryear.wordpress.com
Killer Year: Stories to Die For...From the Hottest New Crime Writers ed. by Lee Child. St. Martin's Minotaur, ©2008. ISBN 0312374704 (hardcover), 304p.