Two of the Deadliest: New Tales of Lust, Greed, and Murder from Outstanding Women of Mystery

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A collection of twenty-three indelible stories—all never before published—from today's top female crime writers and some talented newcomers, selected by the New York Times bestselling author

Anger . . . Jealousy . . . Gluttony . . . Sloth . . . Lust . . . Greed . . . Pride.

The seven deadly sins have been the roots of crime throughout human history. In Two of the Deadliest, Elizabeth George has gathered ...

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Two of the Deadliest: New Tales of Lust, Greed, and Murder from Outstanding Women of Mystery

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A collection of twenty-three indelible stories—all never before published—from today's top female crime writers and some talented newcomers, selected by the New York Times bestselling author

Anger . . . Jealousy . . . Gluttony . . . Sloth . . . Lust . . . Greed . . . Pride.

The seven deadly sins have been the roots of crime throughout human history. In Two of the Deadliest, Elizabeth George has gathered nearly two dozen tales that probe the dark heart of crime in the name of a pair of particularly wicked transgressions: lust and greed.

A young woman mistaken for someone else falls neatly into what appears to be the perfect business opportunity, only to learn that such luxury comes with a price. A mother is driven to depths she never imagined by her less-than-grateful son. And two lovers intent on profiting from an unexpected inheritance discover that the most valuable item is not at all what they thought it was.

In addition to stars including Laura Lippman, Susan Wiggs, Marcia Muller, Carolyn Hart, Nancy Pickard, and Elizabeth George herself, the collection also features new writers from a broad range of backgrounds—journalists, educators, and criminal experts. Together they explore the dark depths women and men will sink to for passion, wealth, and power.

Thrilling and unpredictable, these stories of murder and mayhem are guaranteed to shock and entertain.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

George's all-original anthology showcases 18 stories by established women mystery writers and five by relative unknowns. While not every entry is a winner, the wide variety of styles and settings will please most mystery fans. Especially strong are Linda Barnes's "Catch Your Death," a classic tale of love gone wrong told by an appealing narrator, and Stephanie Bond's satisfyingly twisty "Bump in the Night." In "Gold Fever," Dana Stabenow fits quick characterizations, an exotic locale (Alaska) and a tidy plot into a few pages. Marcia Talley's tightly written "Can You Hear Me Now" is modest in ambition-but who doesn't like to see a rude cellphone user get his comeuppance? Among the newcomers, Z. Kelley's "Anything Helps" is particularly notable for its charm. Other contributors include Carolyn Hart, Laura Lippman and S.J. Rozan. (Aug.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

This is a sometimes uneven but ultimately worthwhile collection of short stories from female mystery writers. Each involves one or both of the two "deadly sins" of lust and greed. Standout stories include "Can You Hear Me Now?," Marcia Talley's revenge fantasy about obnoxious cell phone users; Linda Barnes's "Catch Your Death," notable mostly for clever Sherlock Holmes references; Gillian Linscott's "Enough to Stay the Winter," a gripping suspense tale set in the south of France in 1921; and newcomer Barbara Fryer's sexy, pulse-quickening "The Runaway Camel." Unfortunately, two of the weaker stories start off the book, so readers should feel free to skip around rather than read cover to cover. Surprisingly, editor George's own story falls apart in its conclusion, an unusual slip for one of modern mystery's best. Overall, this anthology is a great way for mystery lovers to enjoy less time-consuming works from favorite authors and discover new ones.
—Amy Watts

Kirkus Reviews
Greed and lust are the driving forces in 23 new stories by female authors. Among the best offerings from more practiced veterans are Nancy Pickard's paean to the comforts of cake ("Dark Chocolate"); Marcia Talley's eavesdropping on a cell-phone user ("Can You Hear Me Now?"); Wendy Hornsby's ricochet through Jack London's life ("The Violinist"); Laura Lippman's portrait of a middle-aged woman as crafty as she is invisible ("Cougar"); S.J. Rozan's soliloquy of a frame-up ("Cold, Hard Facts"); Linda Barnes's valentine to Sherlock Holmes lovers ("Catch Your Death"); and editor George's inheritance boomerang ("Lusting for Jenny, Inverted"). Less successful are outings by Carolyn Hart, Dana Stabenow, Marcia Muller and eight others. Newcomer Barbara Fryer tops the list of past and present students of George with "The Runaway Camel," an offbeat look at an obsessed fan who becomes the victim of an obsession herself. As you might expect, George, known for many virtues that don't include concision (Careless in Red, 2008, etc.), does let her contributors run on, but on the whole she pieces together a readable if not terribly innovative anthology.
Globe and Mail (Toronto)
“This brilliant anthology of short stories by some of the most outstanding women now writing mysteries and crime a truly glorious collection”
Bellingham Herald (WA)
“Should satisfy every reader’s sleuth-tooth....A good way for fans of crime writing to discover new favorite authors.”
Seattle Times
“Wicked little stories from old hands and relative neophytes drawn from George’s writing classes. Don’t miss her own sly contribution.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch
Globe & Mail (Toronto)
"This brilliant anthology of short stories by some of the most outstanding women now writing mysteries and crime a truly glorious collection"
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061726590
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/21/2009
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Abridged, 13 CDs/16 Hours
  • Sales rank: 1,425,531
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 5.80 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth George

Elizabeth George is the New York Times bestselling author of sixteen novels of psychological suspense, one book of nonfiction, and two short story collections. Her work has been honored with the Anthony and Agatha awards, the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière, and the MIMI, Germany's prestigious prize for suspense fiction. She lives in Washington State.


Elizabeth George was happy that her first novel was rejected.

Scratch that. She's happy now. At the time, it wasn't her best day. But the notes from her editor helped her realize that she had written the wrong book and chosen the wrong leading man. She threw out her Agatha-Christie/drawing-room-whodunit model in favor of a more modern police procedural set in the world of Scotland Yard. She promoted a minor character to her leading man, the handsome, aristocratic, Bentley-driving Thomas Lynley. And she invented a partner for him, the blue-collar, foul-mouthed, messy Barbara Havers.

"I was very lucky when the first one was rejected, because the editor explained to me why," George told the Los Angeles Times in 1999. "I had written a very Agatha Christie-esque book and she said that wasn't the way it was done. The modern crime novel doesn't have the detective call everyone into the library. It must deal with more topical crimes and the motives must be more psychological because the things you kill for are different now. Things like getting rid of a spouse who won't divorce you, or hiding an illegitimate child, or blackmail over a family scandal -- those are no longer realistic motivations."

And so, in A Great Deliverance, her first published novel, she opens with the decapitated body of a farmer, his blood-splattered daughter holding an ax, the horrified clergyman who happens on to the crime scene, and a rat feasting on the remains. Nope, not in Agatha Christie territory anymore.

George began writing as child when her mother gave her an old 1939 typewriter. When she graduated from high school, she graduated to an electric typewriter. But not until she graduated to a home computer (purchased by her husband in the 1983), did she actually try her hand at a novel. At the time, she was a schoolteacher and had been since 1974. But with the computer in front of her, she has said, it was put-up-or-shut-up time. She finished her first manuscript in 1983. But her first book wasn't published for five more years.

Though the Lynley/Havers novels are set in England -- as are the tales in her first book of short stories, 2002's I, Richard -- George is a Yank, born in Ohio and raised in Southern California. Maintaining a flat in London's South Kensington as a home base for research, George has been an Anglophile since a trip as a teenager to the United Kingdom, where she ultimately found that a British setting better served the fiction that she wanted to write. "The English tradition offers the great tapestry novel," she told Publishers Weekly in 1996, "where you have the emotional aspect of a detective's personal life, the circumstances of the crime and, most important, the atmosphere of the English countryside that functions as another character."

Readers have made her books standard features on the bestseller lists, and critics have noted the psychologically deft motives of her characters and her detailed, well-researched plotting. "A behemoth, staggering in depth and breadth, A Traitor to Memory leaves you simultaneously satisfied and longing for more. It's simply a supreme pleasure to spend time engrossed in this intense, well-written novel," the Miami Herald said in 2001. The Washington Post called 1990's Well-Schooled in Murder " a bewitching book, exasperatingly clever, and with a complex plot that must be peeled layer by layer like an onion." The Los Angeles Times once called her "the California author who does Britain as well as P.D. James." And in 1996, Entertainment Weekly placed George's eighth novel, In the Presence of the Enemy in their fiction top ten list of the year, where she kept company with John Updike, Frank McCourt, Stephen King, and Jon Krakauer.

In her mind, each book begins with the killer, the victim and the motive. She travels to London and stays at her flat there to research locales. And she writes long profiles about what drives her characters psychologically. The kick for the reader isn't necessarily whodunit but why they dun it.

"I don't mind if they know who the killer is," she has said. "I'm happy to surprise them with the psychology behind the crime. I'm interested in the dark side of man. I'm interested in taboos, and murder is the greatest taboo. Characters are fascinating in their extremity not in their happiness."

Good To Know

The original model for Lynley was Nigel Havers, the nobleman and hurdle-jumper in the film Chariots of Fire whose butler placed champagne flutes on the hurdles to keep him from knocking them over. She named Barbara Havers as an homage to the actor.

On page 900 of the rough draft for Deception on His Mind, George changed her mind about the identity of the killer.

George's ex-husband is her business manager.

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    1. Hometown:
      Seattle, Washington
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 26, 1949
    2. Place of Birth:
      Warren, Ohio
    1. Education:
      A.A. Foothill Community College, 1969; B.A. University of California, Riverside, 1970; M.S. California State University
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 30, 2009

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    The amount of suspense that can be generated in just a few pages is amazing - that is if you have topnotch mystery writers. That is precisely what Elizabeth George offers in her collection of 23 never before published stories by outstanding women authors. Granted crime/mystery is a genre usually occupied by men, but read this and you may decide the female is the scariest of the species.

    The title is a reference to the Seven Deadly sins. For George's purposes here Two of the Deadliest are lust and greed. Each writer offers a different take on one of these topics, all are surprising spellbinders.

    Consider lust examined in "E-Male" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Gavin seems like an ordinary kind of guy who starts the day by padding barefoot to fix a mocha grande with sprinkles. He's lucky enough to work at home (a small rent-controlled apartment), and happy to live alone with his cat.

    There's very little Gavin doesn't know about a computer, which makes it perhaps time consuming for him but also easy to access the email accounts of Stella - "his almost-wife; his now-ex-girlfriend." They hate each other. A restraining order was issued when Stella told a judge, "Gavin seems to think he owns me. He watches me all the time. I'm afraid of him." Restraining order or no Gavin is still very much keeping his eye on her, reading the email she sends and the email she receives. He knows where she is, what she's thinking.

    But suddenly her email take on a new tone; she no longer chats with most of her men friends. In fact, she has stopped answering posts from her family, which is not like her at all. But, there is nothing Gavin can do because he cannot go near her.

    Greed is the focus in "The Offer" By Patricia Smiley. A marketing job at a drive-through pet-wash company might not seem like much but it's Mari Smith's last hope. She fell for a scam from a man claiming to be the Nigerian minister of education which wiped out her savings, and now has maxed out her Visa to fly to Los Angeles and apply for this job.

    In an odd turn of events when she heads for baggage claim in LA she sees a limo driver holding a partially obscured sign - all she could see was MARI SMI. Once the driver moves his hand she see that it reads Marion Smithson, but she has already approached him. He tells her he is there to drive her downtown to her hotel and the ride has been prepaid by the company.

    Perhaps too beaten down to think clearly (and it'll save paying a cab) she accepts the ride - a ride such as she's never experienced. The limo holds champagne in an ice bucket, and a welcome gift - a gold Cartier watch. Could a start-up pet servicing company possibly afford this? Read and discover how far Mari takes the charade and where it takes her.

    That's just a small sample of the intriguing stories in this unique collection, which also includes a new tale by editor George.. "Two of the Deadliest" is perfect for mystery lovers as you can dip into it whenever you wish to enjoy the work of your favorites or meet new writers. Enjoy!

    - Gail Cooke

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The premise for this entertaining anthology is most crime focuses on two of the seven deadly sins: Lust and Greed

    The premise for this entertaining anthology is most crime focuses on two of the seven deadly sins: Lust and Greed with twenty-three contributions ranging the gamut of the crime caper environs. There are no clinkers, but some are super especially those that get to the point of lust and or greed right away while a few are only okay because they take too long to establish the premise or too short to explore the concept. Especially enjoyable is Marcia Talley's "Can You Hear Me Now", which will remind readers of a scene from Annie Hall with Marshal McLuhan, as an odious cell phone user who gets what he deserves. I am personally a sucker for stories containing late writers from long ago (though an overdone sub-genre) like Sherlock Holmes commentaries that enhance the strong entry by Linda Barnes as love hurts in "Catch Your Death" and Wendy Hornsby's "Violinist" virtuoso to Jack London. The best entry is "The Runaway Camel" by Barbara Fryer in which a lusting fan is stalked by a lusting fan. Also fascinating is Patricia Smiley's "The Offer" in which a woman from the Pacific Northwest comes to Los Angeles to compete for a job that seems perfect until she learns too late the real price of relocation. Overall this is a superb look at lust and greed as seen through the eyes of the Outstanding Women of Mystery.

    Harriet Klausner

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2012

    Usually borrow from library; bought this

    This collection pleased me, and most collections of short stories do not please me. Also, I found some authors new to me in a favorite category: mystery and suspense.

    An added plus for me is that all the authors in this collection are women. (I do enjoy male authors too.)

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  • Posted October 12, 2012


    Very strange weird book but it was free so I tried it!

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    Posted September 19, 2009

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    Posted January 14, 2010

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    Posted September 7, 2011

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    Posted August 18, 2009

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