This collection of four short stories and a novella may disappoint readers expecting one of Forsyth's international thrillers but not anyone looking for a good read. What is surprising is the thematic and geographical range of these pieces, all narrated in a solid realist style with sharply observed detail and engrossing, sometimes surprising plots. Always suspenseful, the stories take us into disparate worlds. "The Veteran" features London thugs, the police, and the courts, whereas "The Art of the Matter," a highly entertaining tale of revenge, delves into the world of auction houses. "The Miracle," which takes us to an Italian hill town during World War II, is related as if by a medieval fabulist but with its own modern twist, while "The Citizen," perhaps the least successful story, portrays drug smuggling via an airline flight. Most startling of all is "Whispering Wind," Forsyth's tale of the Indian wars in 1876, in which we discover that a frontier scout survived the massacre at the Little Bighorn. The scout's love for a Cheyenne woman, a magical tale that spans two different historical periods, makes for compulsive reading. Recommended for all collections of popular fiction. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/01.] Ronnie H. Terpening, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
A short novel and four long stories, by veteran Forsyth (The Phantom of Manhattan, 1999, etc.). The title piece, a British-style police procedural, moves brilliantly and richly through in Edmonton, Canada, where detective sergeant Jack Burns leads an investigation into the mugging of an older man brutally kicked in the street who dies after long days in a coma. Burns's investigation turns up airtight evidence against two thugs, who are captured, held in custody for two or three weeks, but never brought to trial. A toweringly bright defense lawyer gets them off scot-free so that he can engineer a greater vengeance than the court's. But a crucial plot point about the nameless victim isn't made until after the murderers are freed. Did the lawyer pick up this essential piece of information from a police artist's sketch of the unidentified victim? Well, "Vengeance is mine," saith the Lord . . . maybe He told the lawyer. In "The Art of the Matter" (a cockney play on Graham Greene's 1948 novel, The Heart of the Matter), stone-broke East End actor Trumpington "Trumpy" Gore, a spear carrier in a hundred British films who's rarely had a line of more than three words, inherits a grimy 16th-century painting, has it appraised at an auction house, and gets cheated out of a million pounds. This leads to a revenge rip-off that calls for Woody Allen's Zelig inserting actor Bob Hoskins into a dozen famous British costumers. "The Miracle" tells of a WWII visitation by Santa Caterina della Misericordia to the square in Siena where she was crucified 400 years ago; she now helps save hundreds of grievously wounded Germans and Allies, none of whom die. (But there's a twist.) "The Citizen" turns on a drug buston a Boeing 747, "Whispering Wind" on the lone survivor of Custer's Last Stand. Big Pro shows his stuff. Boffo.
"Lucid, vivid and delightfully readable, Forsyth is a master word-spinner and a master of meticulous detail."-The Los Angeles Times
"Each of the stories in this volume is Forsyth in top form. The writing exceeds expectations, the stories are never less than compelling, and the suspense in each of them is nonstop. -Otto Penzler, a Penzler Pick for September 2001
"A smooth and satisfying read for anyone who likes his or her thrills in small packages." -Providence Journal