Unusual Suspects: Stories of Mystery and Fantasy

Unusual Suspects: Stories of Mystery and Fantasy

3.6 19
by Dana Stabenow
     
 

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From video game characters seeking civil rights and a cave dragon loan shark pondering an investment, to Santa Clause's Australian vacation and an enemy of Sam Spade's seeking revenge-plus visits to the Nightside and Sookie Stackhouse's hometown—Unusual Suspects invokes a dozen imaginative tales featuring otherworldly investigators trailing uncanny

Overview

From video game characters seeking civil rights and a cave dragon loan shark pondering an investment, to Santa Clause's Australian vacation and an enemy of Sam Spade's seeking revenge-plus visits to the Nightside and Sookie Stackhouse's hometown—Unusual Suspects invokes a dozen imaginative tales featuring otherworldly investigators trailing uncanny criminals across fantastical realms governed by the laws of magic.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This follow-up to Powers of Detection(2006) breaks no new ground, but offers 12 stories with enough well-paced variety to keep readers happy. In Charlaine Harris's notable Sookie Stackhouse tale, "Lucky," one insurance agent's good luck makes him a target. A "resurrected" Humphrey Bogart is murdered in Carole Nelson Douglas's "Bogieman" while Santa Claus investigates the murder of an elf in John Straley's "Weight of the World." On the lighter side, a divorcée gets used to a menagerie of ghostly housemates in Sharon Shinn's "The House of Seven Spirits" and a young woman confronts a cave dragon turned loan shark to solve her father's disappearance in Laura Anne Gilman's "Illumination." Strong tales outnumber the weaker ones by a considerable margin and will satisfy fans of both genres. (Dec.)

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Library Journal

Charlaine Harris returns to Bon Temps, LA, where Sookie Stackhouse (the main character on HBO's True Blood) is on the case of a mystery involving an insurance man and some missing money in "Lucky," the first of a dozen stories featuring contemporary writers of mystery, horror, fantasy, and combinations thereof. Including contributions by Sharon Shinn ("The House of Seven Spirits") and Simon R. Green ("Appetite for Murder"), this follow-up anthology to Powers of Detection is recommend for fantasy and mystery collections where paranormals are popular.


—Jackie Cassada

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780441019663
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
11/30/2010
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
1,235,172
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

Introduction

Evidently enough of you enjoyed Powers of Detection so much that Ginjer Buchanan at Ace Science Fiction thought a second collection was a good idea. On behalf of all the authors included herein, thank you!

Most of the usual suspects are back, with the addition of Michael Stackpole and Carole Nelson Douglas. Who would want to kill Sam Spade? Carole's got an answer for that, and Michael's got a new take on scapegoats that, okay, I know somebody gets killed and that's a bad thing, but I'm still laughing as I write these words.

Laurie King and Sharon Shinn offer up ghost stories, both with a very high goosebump index. Interesting how the spookiest stories often have the least amount of gore.

Donna Andrews returns to the Westmarch College of Magical Studies and the adventures of Gwynn the apprentice, who this time saves master mage Justinian from a fate worse than death. Charlaine Harris returns to Bon Temps, Louisiana, where the vampires are out by night and the insurance agents by day. What's the difference, really? Sookie Stackhouse knows.

Laura Anne Gilman introduces us to a cave dragon for a loan shark, and Simon Green takes us back into the Nightside for a grim little tale of justice delayed but not denied. Mike Doogan, tongue firmly in cheek, magicks up a traveling salesman story, Michael Armstrong indulges in a little global wishful thinking, and John Straley tells us where Santa Claus really goes during the off season.

Myself, I went back to Mnemosynea, for another tale of Seer and Sword. Turns out I like that world so much the Mage Guild commissioned me to write a Mnemosynean world almanac. I've even got a map now. And I admit, the ending of "A Woman's Work" involves a little wishful thinking of my own.

The great thing about fantastical fiction is its ability to put any ending on a question beginning "What if?" What if Santa goes Down Under on vacation? What if a cave dragon loan shark wants to make good on an investment? What if video games achieve the level of reality, what rights belong to the characters created therein?

In her introduction to The Norton Book of Science Fiction, Ursula K. LeGuin wrote, "In a story where only what ordinarily occurs is going to occur, one can safely use such a sentence as, 'He was absorbed in the landscape.' In a story where only the story tells you what is likely to happen, you had best be careful about using sentences like that."

And of course the great thing about crime fiction, aside from the universal human love of a mystery, is that by the end there is always a resolution, and, sometimes, justice.

Put murder in a fantasy setting, and "If you die, I'll kill you!" becomes a credible threat.

At least in here. Be careful how you go.

—Dana Stabenow

Meet the Author

Dana Stabenow is the Edgar Award-winning author of Fire and Ice, So Sure of Death, and several other acclaimed mysteries. She lives in Anchorage, Alaska.

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Unusual Suspects: Stories of Mystery and Fantasy 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Ariana_EJR More than 1 year ago
Once upon a time, fantasy was fantasy, and mysteries were mysteries, and never the twain shall meet. Actually that never existed. Read, if you can find them, Poul Anderson's Norwegian-Japanese detective or Isaac Asimov's Lucky Starr book. At any rate these are mysteries, and good ones. It's hard in a an anthology to pick a special one, but House of the seven Spirits is romantic, and funny and spooky. It goes on from there. Good reading
jjmachshev More than 1 year ago
How I love a good surprise. From running upon this gem unexpectedly in the bookstore, to the stories it contains, reading it gave me a lift all around. "Unusual Suspects" is an anthology of twelve stories that blend mystery and fantasy into a delicious confection. The stories range from historical to contemporary urban fantasy, from mages to witches, and from werewolves to vampires to humans. Authors include Charlaine Harris (a new Sookie story!), Carole Nelson Douglas, Simon R. Green (a new Nightside!), Laurie R. King, Dana Stabenow, Sharon Shinn, Laura Anne Gilman, Michael A. Stackpole, Mike Doogan, Donna Andrews, Michael Armstrong, and John Straley.

If you like mystery, mayhem, and magic...this is a book well worth your time.
harstan More than 1 year ago
These superb twelve new tales focus on the convergence of mystery and suspense inside a fantasy realm. The stories are all well written, holding up nicely to its predecessor collection (see POWERS OF DETECTION). Charlaine Harris provides a Sookie entry while Simon R. Green returns to the Nightside and the editor Ms. Stabenow takes her fans back to Mnemosynea for what she describes as a ¿Seer and Sword¿ thriller. The other entries are strong with deep characters such as Laura Anne Gilman¿s loan shark dragon star of ¿Illumination¿. Carole Nelson Douglas¿ ¿Bogieman¿ answers one of the deepest fundamental questions of the universe: who wants Sam Spade dead (than again who does not might be easier to answer)? Likewise John Straley responds to another question of the ages: what does Santa do during his off season? Whether it is Donna Andrews¿s Gwynn the apprentice returning to cast a ¿spellbound¿ on her fans to read her story or Mike Doogan a ¿Glamour¿ satirizing the sub-genre, readers will enjoy this compilation. The remaining four are excellent contributions by top tier authors (Michael A. Stackpole, Sharon Sinn, Michael Armstrong and Laurie R. King).

Harriet Klausner
Andrew_of_Dunedin 5 months ago
“Powers of Detection”, an anthology featuring stories of crimes committed in fantasy worlds and/or by the characters that inhabit such universes, proved to be so popular that editor Dana Stabenow undertook a sequel. “Unusual Suspects: Stories of Mystery & Fantasy” gathers 12 authors (including Ms. Stabenow) to tell tales of supernatural crimes. The cover proudly shouts about “A New Sookie Stackhouse Story” by Charlaine Harris. The tale, “Lucky”, leads off the anthology. The tale neither excited me nor turned me off – however, it was my first exposure to the famed protagonist “Sookie Stackhouse”. I suspect that readers who have previously spent time with her and her world will enjoy the tale more than I did, as 26 pages is not nearly enough space to learn to love an entire literary universe. The next tale, “Bogieman”, by Carole Nelson Douglas (known for her documentation of the adventures of cat detective Midnight Louie) was more my speed – my lack of knowledge of this brand new universe put me on equal ground with all other readers, and the thought of Humphrey Bogart’s Sam Spade wandering Las Vegas (along with other famed replicants of famous stars of the past) was quite enjoyable. I’m not going to go over every story in the book – although I could probably go on and on praising most of them – but in the interest of space, let’s jump to the fact that the anthology goes out with a bang. Simon R. Green’s “Appetite for Murder” (the title is a bit too generic for this story, in my opinion) looks at a mystical underside of London, where anything goes – until it goes too far. The story’s climax takes a couple of plot devices and flips them on their ears; it was my favorite tale in the collection. Ms. Stabenow’s “A Woman’s Work” looks at the concept of justice in a fantasy universe as two women – the Seer and the Sword – are brought in to judge (jury, and execute) a murder in a misogynistic society. Unlike most anthologies, there were no weak stories propped up by stronger ones – the WORST in this collection was “pretty darned good”. Fans of either fantasy or murder-mystery genres will probably enjoy this collection. Fans of both will love it. RATING: 4 ½ stars, rounded up to 5 stars where half stars are not permitted. (And I have never rated an anthology at 5 stars up until this point.)
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I bought this book for one particular short story but as often happens, I eneded up with a couple of new authors I want to look into more.
Sufferingzombie More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It is a follow up to Powers of Detection and both are wonderful additions to your library if you enjoy the supernatural, fantasy or sciece fiction.
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