Stories to keep you up all night
Edited by James Patterson

Hardcover/576 pages
ISBN: 0-7783-2299-8
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". . . this anthology is a virtuoso orchestral work without a single sour note. "

"Is (it) a writer's fantasy or is it more real than we dare to believe?"

"…an obvious labor of love and a fitting epitaph to Dennis Lynds."

Some books are like rich, dark chocolate that you just cannot put down. Thriller is one of those books.

Thirty authors in the newly formed International Thriller Writers present stories in this first ever collection of short thrillers using one familiar character or plot line from an author’s well known work. It will keep readers up all night. The book is dedicated to the late author Dennis Lynds whose work is also included. It is a collection of the best and brightest the ITW and writing has to offer.

In Heather Graham’s “The Face In The Window”, scenery and atmosphere are central to the plot and plays an important character as much as Beth and Keith Henson each do. Beth is home alone while a hurricane rages outside and her husband, Keith, races the elements and time to bring an elderly neighbor and her Yorkie back to wait out the storm with them. Beth and Keith each face an anonymous stranger on a night when fate brings news of an escaped serial killer.

The weather raises the stakes as Graham, at her atmospheric best, slowly and tortuously unreels her tale. The story is at once familiar and comfortable. The Hensons provide stability and the ease of long association, like the eye of a Force 5 hurricane. The combined effect leaves the reader both tense and laughing.

Terrorists, civil liberties and Guantanamo Bay provide the skeleton for James Grippando’s “Operation Northwoods”, a story he fully fleshes out. Jack Swyteck, a Cuban/Caucasian lawyer and his ex-con, ex-death row inmate investigator face the FBI and the might of the U. S. Naval base at Guantanamo Bay when one of his clients, a Haitian born businessman, crashes into the base in a private plane filled with napalm. What makes the story even more frightening is its parallel with current events. After all, how do you get rid of more than six hundred detainees, international terrorists with little or no effort? Is “Operation Northwoods” a writer’s fantasy or is it more real than we dare to believe?

For Grippando, it’s a question of whether life is imitating art or if art is revealing the darker, more pragmatic side of life. At the end of Grippando’s tale, the reader is left with more questions than answers and the chilling feeling of reading tomorrow’s headlines.

There is a moment in many lives where a time and distance close them off from the truth of past events and from themselves. John Lescroart and M. J. Rose explore what lies on the other side of “The Portal” in Lucy Delrey’s life.

Lucy cannot feel her life or her emotions. She is a hunter who destroys men’s lives, annihilating them with sex. She is an assassin fixated on Frank Millay, an artist whose work still affects her twenty years later. Millay’s brilliant paintings, the colors Lucy remembers so vividly, are the portal between the life and death of emotion. At her psychologist’s urging, Lucy seeks a path back through the portal to unlock her interred feelings and face her own truth. Lescroart and Rose blend their styles and their milieus to form a partnership that takes the best and worst of their worlds – law and sex therapy – for a hauntingly insidious tale that is difficult to shake off.

Thriller is an obvious labor of love and a fitting epitaph to Dennis Lynds. From David Morrell’s return to the demons and darkness that form the basis of “The Abelard Sanction” to Brad Thor’s world of terrorism and the very real threat of revenge in “The Athens Solution”, this anthology is a virtuoso orchestral work without a single sour note.

Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell