Crime syndicate

Written by Anirudh Vohra | Updated: Aug 3 2014, 06:39am hrs
The sculptures were all on sadomasochistic themes: nude women being whipped, bound, beaten. Just what you need to add that extra spark to your living room

Jeffery Deaver and John Sandford

IN AN unprecedented collaboration, 23 of the worlds best-selling and critically-acclaimed thriller writers have paired their series characters, including Harry Bosch, Jack Reacher and Lincoln Rhyme, in an 11-story anthology curated by the International Thriller Writers (ITW).

A clever concept distinguishes this anthology, as each of the 11 stories pairs well-known series characters created by different authors, sometimes in adversarial but more often in collegial ways, and almost always effectively. Antonymous heroes include John Lescroarts Wyatt Hunt and T Jefferson Parkers Joe Trona, who share an adventure in Silent Hunt. Others, far-from-obvious matches include Jeffery Deavers Lincoln Rhyme and John Sandfords Lucas Davenport, who join forces in the longest entry, Rhymes with Prey. Steve Martinis prosecutor Paul Madriani and Linda Fairsteins defence attorney cross swords in Surfing the Panther, but end up exerting their weapons for the same cause. The strangest pairing is in Gaslighted, featuring RL Stines ventriloquist dummy, Slappy, and Douglas Preston and Lincoln Childs FBI agent, Aloysius Pendergast. Similar celebrated duos include Lee Childs Jack Reacher with Joseph Finders Nick Heller in Good and Valuable Consideration; MJ Roses Malachai Samuels and Lisa Gardners DD Warren in The Laughing Buddha; and Ian Rankins John Rebus with Peter Jamess Roy Grace in In the Nick of Time. The idea is good and demands a sequel, perhaps one that reaches beyond the US, the UK and Canada for conferrers.

The book is edited by David Baldacci, who has written an introduction to each of the 11 short stories included in the volume. The idea was to pair each authors iconic protagonist with that of another, cooperating in the plot to solve a crime or mystery. Some of the stories are engrossing, while others less so.

A face-off in hockey occurs when two opposing players face each other in a circle or at centre-ice and attempt to direct the puck to a teammate when the referee tosses it between them. In other circumstances, a face-off implies one or more forces facing each other, usually in opposition. So at the very least, this book (the third to be published on behalf of the ITW), comprising some of the best-known authors of the thriller-mystery genre and whose proceeds fund the organisation, is a misnomer.

Rhymes with Prey, the most intriguing entry of the lot, features Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs from Jeffery Deavers Lincoln Rhyme series and Lucas Davenport from John Sandfords Prey series. The authors were able to provide just the right amount of background into each character to make them familiar to the reader, though having read quite a few Lincoln Rhymes books in the past, the characters needed no introduction. As with the other stories in the anthology, it is a fast-paced and imperious story. Lucas Davenport has been asked to come to New York to assist his friend, NYPD officer Lily Rothenburg, in an investigation of a series of murders. Lily fears that these drug-related murders of Latino women may be affiliated with one of the NYPDs narcotics squad. Since she isnt quite sure who she can trust in-house, she has requested Lucas to assist. Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs have been dealing with the forensic evidence from these murders. This two-pronged approach to the investigation quickly reveals that there may be an artistic link to the murders, in addition to the possible police link. All four are pushed to race against the clock, as political pressure is applied to the department to quickly solve the case. Can they bring in a suspect, the right suspect, and close the case before the investigation becomes a witch hunt

In facing off, they work together, sometimes even beyond the law or ethical boundaries. Rhymes with Prey makes an amazing read. It is practically impossible to tell where one writer left off and the other began.

Among the many problems in developing stories under this concept includes working out where the two lead characters will operate, since most were domiciled in separate locations, sometimes on opposite sides of the country. Needless to say, the writing and creativity are the result of the top writers in the field. Its just too bad their hands were tied up by the premise. One would think with the best minds in the business, a better idea could have been developed.

If you love your series characters, or have wished that one could interact with another, then this one is for you without a doubt.