Retrievers: Staying Dead (2005)
Anthologies: Highwaymen: Robbers and Rogues (1997), Murder by Magic (2004), Powers of Detection (2004), Unusual Suspects (2008), Running with the Pack (2010), Those Who Fight Monsters: Tales of Occult Detectives (2011)
Staying Dead (2005)
I've come to expect a lot from books published by Luna, so it's almost a shock for me to read one of their books that I don't absolutely love. And the thing is I really should have loved this book. Like all Luna books, it has a strong female hero, and I enjoy supernatural fantasy, and the writing seemed strong. Yet as I read the book I felt like it somehow wasn't quite meeting my expectations. Despite the fact that there is very little I can point to and say, "THAT bothered me."
The one thing that did bother me was the font. I strongly dislike sans-serif fonts on paper (they're great on the screen, but on paper I can't stand them). But although it was distracting, it was hardly enough of a reason for the general feeling if disappointment and discontent.
The only other thing that I would take issue with is the fact that I never developed a sense of what Wren could and couldn't do with her Talent. She's wasn't all powerful and able to everything, but I was never sure what her limits were, and what she could do. There was lots of talk about current and electricity, but it never really made a lot of sense to me how that would let you translocate something. So I would have liked the rules--or at least ideas--of magic to have been fleshed out a little more.
Otherwise, I'm hard pressed to say what was wrong. I found the Wren and Sergei interesting characters. Nothing struck me as untoward about the writing--I was never pulled out of the story by some detail or quirk. The story itself was interesting, and there were several different threads to the story happening at once, which I liked, since that's how life generally works.
Yet with all those good points I put the book down with a feeling of disappointment. And because I felt the same way about the Laura Anne Gilman Retrievers short story I read last year, I probably won't read any more Retrievers books, unless I come across them used. So whileI wasn't that excited about this story, that may well be chalked up to personal taste.
Give a Man a Horse He Can Ride - Esther Friesner
Kid Binary and the Two-Big Gang - Michael A. Stackpole
The Moonlight Flit - Rosemary Edghill
The Bandido of Pozoseco - Kate Daniel
We Met Upon The Road - Jane Emerson
Where Angels Fear to Tread - Laura Anne Gilman
Diana's Foresters - Susan Shwartz
Fool's Gold - Doranna Durgin
Highwayscape with Gods - Lawrence Schimel
The Bishop's Coffer - Janny Wurts
The Abbot of Croxton - Melanie Rawn
Published by DAW
Powers of Detection (2004) edited by Dana Stabenow
Well, it was an okay thing.
Cold Spell - Donna Andrews
The Nightside, Needless To Say - Simon R. Green
Lovely - John Straley
The Price - Anne Bishop
Fairy Dust - Charlaine Harris
The Judgement - Anne Perry
The Sorcerer's Assassin - Sharon Shinn
The Boy Who Chased Seagulls - Michael Armstrong
Palimpsest - Laura Anne Gilman
The Death of Clickclickwhistle - Mike Doogan
Cairene Dawn - Jay Caselberg
Justice Is A Two-Edged Sword - Dana Stabenow
The Charlaine Harris story was good. In "Fairy Dust," Sookie has to figure out who killed Claudine's sister, Claudia.
Having read Anne Perry's fantasy before, I skipped "The Judgement" entirely. She may write good mysteries, but what fantasy I've read has been not good.
I liked Jay Caselberg's "Cairene Dawn" even though I caught onto where he was going with it. It was fun and amusing. Anne Bishop's "The Price" was an interesting story. The setting and the world were strange, but the story was still fascinating.
I also liked Simon R. Green's "The Nightside Needless to Say," which was a quick read, and in the hard-boiled vein, which I enjoy when done well. John Straley's "Lovely" was interesting as well, seeing as how it was written from the point of view of a crow.
The other stories were for the most part okay. I didn't like "The Death of Clickclickwhistle" too much, but it was science fiction rather than fantasy, and that was the part I didn't care for, rather than the mystery.
I love fantasy, and I love mysteries, so I figured that this should be a great short story collection. After all, I’ve read some excellent fantasy mysteries recently, such as those written by Charlaine Harris and Simon R. Green. This collection, however, was a mixed bag. For one thing, it look me about three months to read. I’d zip through a couple of stories, and then get bogged down in a story that took days to read, and then I set it aside for something else that looked more interesting.
The problem with several of the stories seemed to be that the ability to write good fantasy does not mean the ability to write good fantasy, and vice versa.
But there are some excellent stories in this collection.
Piece of Mind - Jennifer Roberson
Special Surprise Guest Appearance by... - Carole Nelson Douglas
Doppelgangster - Laura Resnick
Mixed Marraiges Can Be Murder - Will Graham
The Case of the Headless Corpse - Josepha Sherman
A Death in WOrking - Debra Doyle
Cold Case - Diane Duane
Snake in the Grass - Susan R. Matthews
Double Jeopardy - M.J. Hamilton
Witch Sight - Roberta Gellis
Overrush - Laura Anne Gilman
Captured in Silver - Teresa Edgerton
A Night at the Opera - Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
A Tremble in the Air - James D. Macdonald
Murder Entailed - Susan Krinard
Dropping Hints - Lawrence Watt-Evans
Au Purr - Esther M. Friesner
Getting the Chair - Keith R.A. DeCandido
The Necromancer's Apprentice - Lillian Stewart Carl
Grey Eminence - Mercedes Lackey
So, as a mystery collection, I found this anthology mostly disappointing. But I really do recommend looking for Laura Resnick's "Doppelgangster," which was just plain fun.
Unusual Suspects (2008) edited by Dana Stabenow
I own and read Dana Stabenow’s first fantasy/mystery anthology, Powers of Detection and found it a mixed bag. But when I saw Unusual Suspects and saw it had stories from Sharon Shinn & Simon R. Green, I knew I would have to have this anthology.
In general, I enjoyed it more than the first anthology. Unlike the first anthology, the Sookie story was not on of my favorites. I fear I’m becoming annoyed by Sookie. Hopefully the next book I get will repair my goodwill towards her. And I didn’t dislike the story, I simply didn’t care one way or the other about it. The primary mystery itself was actually interesting, but I suppose I felt like the story wandered all over the place; perhaps I like my short stories to be a little tighter. But again, it wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t as good as other short stories I’ve read by Charlaine Harris.
Lucky - Charlaine Harris
Bogieman - Carole Nelson Douglas
Looks Are Deceiving - Michael A. Stackpole
The House of Seven Spirits - Sharon Shinn
Glamour - Mike Doogan
Spellbound - Donna Andrews
The Duh Vice - Michael Armstrong
Weight of the World - John Straley
Illumination - Laura Anne Gilman
The House - Laurie R. King
Appetite for Murder - Simon R. Green
A Woman's Work - Dana Stabenow
The Dana Stabenow story was odd, and actually felt like it belonged in the MZB Sword & Sorceress anthology. There were a few things that frustrated me, the first being that if individuals are being sent to dispense the King’s Justice, don’t you think they’d know just s teeny-tiny bit about the area they’re visiting? I was also somewhat disconcerted by the partners who seemed to know each other not at all. Weird. Although I’m not sure I believed the resolution, it was still interesting.
I quite liked Sharon Shinn’s story, “The House of Seven Spirits.” A woman moves into a house with seven ghosts, and eventually tries to figure out why they’re all tied to the house. There’s something refreshing about a woman who isn’t the least bit frightened by moving into a house full of ghosts, and who acts rationally in response to their existence.
The other “haunted house” story, Laurie R. King’s “The House” would have been better had I not read a very similar Charles de Lint story. There was even a similarity between the storytellers in the stories, with their primary difference being age. (Mind you, the Charles de Lint story wasn’t a haunted house story. It was the twist that was the same in both stories.)
“Spellbound” by Donna Andrews was a very good story that I thoroughly enjoyed, once I realized that it wasn’t going to have the apprentice being all in love with the magician with whom she works (it had that feel initially, so I was a bit wary starting out). The mystery was good, I liked the characters, and the tiny twist at the end–even though I saw it coming–was very amusing.
Another favorite story was Simon R. Green’s “Appetite for Murder.” Even though I saw some of the clues, I ended up wasting brain power trying to remember bits and pieces about Ms. Fate and Tommy and Larry Oblivion, and so was surprised at the end, even thought the pieces were there all along. And shockingly for a Simin R Green story–no one seemed to describe anything as appalling.
If you’re a fan of fantasy mysteries, this anthology is a good introduction to some authors I particularly like, and although it had some weak spots, was better than its predecessor.
When I saw there was a new werewolf anthology edited by Ekatrerina Sedia with a story by Carrie Vaughn I automatically ordered it. Then of course, once it arrived, it sat around like anthologies tend to do, waiting for the “right” time to read it. But eventually read it I did, and it was excellent, with a few caveats, the biggest being, the anthology should not have ended on the story it did. On the plus side (and this is huge plus in my opinion) these are stories that deal with werewolves without all the hawt supernatural sex. A couple stories acknowledge sex, but the focus of these stories is upon the other aspects of being a werewolf, which I very much enjoyed, because there is a lot to explore in this mythos and this anthology does a very good job of moving beyond the paranormal romance aspect of werewolves.
Laura Anne Gilman‘s story Werelove was another very good one, and although it deals with love, it remains boink free.
All in all, this is an excellent anthology, and one I can highly recommend.
Published by Prime
Those Who Fight Monsters: Tales of Occult Detectives (2011)
edited by Justin Gustainis
“Little Better than a Beast: A Marla Mason Story” by T. A. Pratt
“Dusted: A Cosa Nostradamus Story” by Laura Anne Gilman
“The Demon You Know… A Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom Story” by Julie Kenner
“The Spirit of the Thing: A Nightside Story” by Simon R. Green
“Holding the Line: A Jill Kismet Story” by Lilith Saintcrow
“Defining Shadows: A Detective Jessi Hardin Story” by Carrie Vaughn
“Deal Breaker: A Quincey Morris Story” by Justin Gustainis
“See Me: A Smoke and Shadows Story” by Tanya Huff
“Soul Stains: A Vampire Babylon Story” by Chris Marie Green
“Under the Hill and Far Away: A Black London Story” by Caitlin Kittredge
“An Ace in the Hole: A Sazi Story” by C. T. Adams & Cathy Clamp
“Hell Bound: A Hell on Earth Story” by Jackie Kessler
“Impossible Love: A Piers Knight Story” by C. J. Henderson
“Running Wild: An Outcast Season Story” by Rachel Caine
This was, as sometimes happens, a mix of stories I liked and didn’t like, though there wasn’t any particular story I thought was terrible. Just stories that were more or less to my personal taste. There were also several stories I had previously read.
“Dusted: A Cosa Nostradamus Story” by Laura Anne Gilman. Daniel is a retired cop and private investigator who deals with… special cases. Cases that involve things that Nulls don’t see or know about. It wasn’t a bad story, but it didn’t do anything for me, either. Which happened previously with Laura Anne Gilman stories.
All an all, an interesting anthology, and would I can easily recommend–especially if it’s still only $3.
Published by EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing