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Review: Popular characters from thrillers are paired in 'FaceOff' anthology

This book cover image released by Simon & Schuster shows

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This book cover image released by Simon & Schuster shows "FaceOff," a collection of stories edited by David Baldacci. (AP Photo/Simon & Schuster )

"FaceOff" (Simon & Schuster), edited by David Baldacci

International Thriller Writers Inc. has worked with publishers on various anthologies with stories written by their members. In "FaceOff," nearly two dozen authors take their most popular characters and have them interact in 11 stories.

The anthology opens with Dennis Lehane's Patrick Kenzie working alongside Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch. Other authors who have their series characters working together include Jeffery Deaver's Lincoln Rhyme with John Sandford's Lucas Davenport, Steve Berry's Cotton Malone with James Rollins' Gray Pierce, and Joseph Finder's Nick Heller meeting Lee Child's Jack Reacher in a bar.

One of the drawbacks to a short story collection is that some of the tales cram too much information and plot into 30 pages or less, making the reader wish there was an entire novel to explore the characters and narrative. This is abundantly clear in all these tales. Each is a fun romp, but just when things get interesting, the story is over. Having each author work together to write 11 novels is obviously out of the question, so having them write short stories is the next best thing.

Familiarity with the authors and their creations is a huge plus in reading this collection, but not knowing a particular character or writer should not be a deterrent.

While each story has its own charm, the first story with L.A. Detective Harry Bosch trying to navigate his way around Boston is a terrific fish-out-of-water story.

It's not clear if newcomers to particular authors will feel compelled to seek out other works by those writers. Still, the collection is solid, and ITW succeeds in showcasing some great collaborations and stories.

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Online:

http://thrillerwriters.org/

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