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by Jeffery Deaver
Simon and Schuster, December 2003
400 pages
ISBN: 0743260953

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

An accomplished and noted suspense writer, Jeffery Deaver is best known for his thrillers and Lincoln Rhyme series. It may come as a surprise to many of his fans to discover that he is also a very talented short story writer. For the first time, Deaver's best stories have been collected in an anthology called TWISTED, an apt title if there ever was one! As an extra bonus for Rhyme fans, Deaver has written an original Lincoln Rhyme story just for this volume.

The first story in the book, Without Jonathon, concludes with an unexpected and clever plot twist, and that is typically the case for each of the 16 stories in this collection. My favorite is The Weekender which is told from the point of view of a man robbing a drugstore with his friend, who irrationally shoots some of the people in the store. They take one of the customers hostage, who proceeds to play some mind games with one of his captors. There's a nice contrast between the civilized yet conniving persona of the hostage and the sensitive but violent robber who really wants to live a normal life, the possibility of which the hostage dangles before him. It's not evident until the final page of the story whether either one of them can trust the other.

Normally, I'm not a fan of short stories; but this collection definitely held my interest due to a wide variety of themes, settings and ingenious plotting. I did discover that I had to spread my reading out over several sessions, as I found myself anticipating the clever twist or double cross that was typical of the stories. Although always well done, the expectation of the plot twist lessened my enjoyment when reading stories in sequence.

I particularly liked Deaver's Introduction in which he explains his fascination with the short story form and how it compares to the writing of a novel. As a boy, he was drawn to reading and writing and invariably wrote short stories for his writing assignments at school. As an adult, he finds himself challenged by the constraints of the form, ultimately delighting in being freed of some of the strict conventions of novel writing. I've never read any of Deaver's books, but on the basis of his writing ability in this collection I am convinced that I need to address this oversight soon.

Reviewed by Maddy Van Hertbruggen, February 2004

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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