A couple of years ago I read and enjoyed THRILLER: STORIES TO KEEP YOU UP ALL NIGHT, the first anthology put together by the International Thriller Writers. Now the follow-up, THRILLER 2: STORIES YOU JUST CAN’T PUT DOWN is out, and for the most part, it’s a pretty entertaining bunch of stories, too.
First of all, I like the subtitles on these books. They remind me of those great Alfred Hitchcock anthologies from the Sixties and Seventies. In fact, there may have been a book called ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS STORIES TO KEEP YOU UP ALL NIGHT. (I’m too lazy today to look it up and see for sure.) Secondly, the ITW has a pretty talented roster of members to draw from, and as a result there are a number of really good stories in these anthologies, by big names and newcomers alike.
I’m not going to go through all of them in this volume, but I will point out a few favorites: “Can You Help Me Out Here?” by Robert Ferrigno is a sly gangland execution story with a final twist I didn’t see coming. “A Calculated Risk” by Sean Chercover is a tropical adventure that I thought was really well-written. “Bedtime for Mr. Li” by David J. Montgomery is an interesting, well-done hitman story, something that seems to be a minor theme in this anthology since several stories feature such characters. Another case in point in Jon Land’s “Killing Time”, which I really enjoyed. Ridley Pearson’s “Boldt’s Broken Angel” is part of the author’s series about cop Lou Boldt and generates considerable suspense. Three stories are by romantic suspense authors I hadn’t read before: “Vintage Death” by Lisa Jackson, “On the Run” by Carla Neggers, and “Watch Out for My Girl” by Joan Johnston. I liked all of them well enough that I’ll probably give some of their novels a try.
Of course, in any anthology the odds are that some of the stories won’t be to my taste, and that’s true here, but there were only one or two that I started and didn’t finish because I didn’t care for them. In a 500-page anthology with 23 stories, that’s a pretty good winning percentage. I enjoyed THRILLER 2 quite a bit and don’t hesitate to recommend it as another fine collection from the ITW.