😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
You only have to look at the cover of this book to see some of the huge names who have contributed stories to this anthology in aid of Oxfam. In total, there are twenty-seven stories, most of them original, and the overall quality is exceptionally high. There are a few that are really quite short, but most of them are pretty substantial and a few of them star the detective for whom the author is famous. As well as straightforward crime/detection, there are examples of both horror and sci-fi with a crime element, and black humour puts in more than one appearance.
In any anthology some stories are going to be stronger, or more to the reader’s taste, than others. There were only a couple of stories that I really didn’t enjoy, for my usual reasons – excessive and gratuitous language/violence etc – but the majority rated at 4 or 5 stars for me. So many of them were good that it’s hard to single any out, but some of the standouts for me were…
Yrsa Sigurdardottir’s Black Sky – We know Sigurdardottir can write crime and horror, but in this chilling story she shows that she can also combine those with proper science-based sci-fi. A disturbingly possible scenario built on the idea that humanity has found a way to mine the moon for precious minerals. But what happens when a cry for help is heard coming from an abandoned base…?
Stuart Neville’s Juror 8 spins the story of Twelve Angry Men, showing not just what happens after the trial but also putting a different twist on the events inside the juryroom. Dark and imaginative, and told from the perspective of Emmet McArdle, the old man who was the first to give support to Juror 8.
Anne Zouroudi’s The Honey Trap tells the story of a long-ago child disappearance and how the truth is brought to light. Zouroudi builds great atmosphere in this story and her descriptive writing brings the Greek setting to life.
I could pick any of a dozen more, from a decent Sherlock Holmes pastiche by Neil Gaiman to a blackly funny and yet quite moving story from Mark Billingham in which Santa is murdered. Peter James gives us truly spooky horror in a tale of hags, curses and haunted figurines, while Anthony Horowitz makes us laugh and shudder in a deliciously horrible and blackly humorous story of cosmic justice. We have black widows, overly competitive squash players, migrated souls, stolen paintings…
To be honest, you’d need to be pretty much impossible to please if you didn’t enjoy at least some of these stories. Imaginative tales and great writing from top authors – the fact that it’s for a good cause is just an added bonus. Highly recommended.