Book Review: Murder for Revenge edited by Otto Penzler
This is another themed anthology, this time around the concept of revenge. That’s a pretty loose theme as these things go. It’s got a big-name author list going for it though.
“Like a Bone in the Throat” by Lawrence Block starts the book off strong with a tale of a man condemned for a crime he certainly did commit. The death penalty isn’t enough for some people, but who gets revenge in the end?
“Power Play” by Mary Higgins Clark is most notable for starring Mr. and Mrs. Harry Potter (this book came out in 1998, after Philosopher’s Stone came out, but well before the J.K. Rowling series became huge.) An ex-President visits an old friend in the Middle East, and is kidnapped by what appear to be terrorists.
“Fatherhood” by Thomas H. Cook retells a familiar story from a different perspective, one drenched in revenge.
“West End” by Vicki Hendricks is about a sailing trip with a control freak. That won’t end well.
“Caveat Emptor” by Joan Hess features a woman in distress who is taken further advantage of by a real estate agent, the story being told by a neighbor.
“Eradicum Homo Horribilus” by Judith Kelman is a bit over the top. It has a bully of many years trying to trick his favorite victim into coming around for one last humiliation. Too bad for him she’s taken up botany.
“Dead Cat Bounce” by Eric Lustbader is almost nothing like his usual novels. On the eve of a wealthy couple’s daughter’s wedding, it’s discovered that the groom has a few dark secrets. And so do everyone else.
“Angie’s Delight” ” by Philip Margolin has a man facing the death penalty unless he gets a good lawyer, one who can prove he didn’t commit murder. Luckily, this public defender is a tiger. Or is it luck?
‘Front Man” by David Morrell is about growing old in the world of Hollywood writing. Mort Davidson is still a heck of a writer, but the new blood in the front office doesn’t think he can connect with the money-heavy young audience.
“Murder-Two” by Joyce Carol Oates features a relationship between a lawyer and her client that might be the worst thing that fate could have arranged for either.
“The Enemy” by Shel Silverstein is a poem of revenge long-plotted and well-planned. Revenge served very cold indeed.
The volume finishes with “Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff” by Peter Straub. A financial planner hires hitmen, or thinks he does–their specialty may be a little different. It’s the longest story in the book, and is the poorer for it–Mr. Straub becomes self-indulgent and goes on and on. Chilling ending, though.
Overall, a strong collection, worth picking up if you like at least two of the authors (except Peter Straub as this is not his best work. For a better piece by him, see my review of “Koko” http://www.skjam.com/2013/06/05/book-review-koko/ .)