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Daggers Drawn

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A chilling collection of 19 short stories from the crime-fiction finest. My standout being 'The Weekender' by Jeffrey Deaver. A thrilling read.
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I wanted to read the Ian Rankin story in this book, but did scroll through and ended up reading about 8 other stories. They are all well-written, with a wide variety of styles and characters and I found it quite educational to read stories by some authours I'd heard about but not read novels by. The samplling had definately made me interested in reading more by them.
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Daggers Drawn is a leap into the Crime Writers’ Association’s (CWA) archive of Short Story Dagger Award winners from its beginnings in 1938 through to the present day. It brings the reader a collection of works from incredible modern crime authors such as Ian Rankin, Jeffery Deaver and John Connolly. Short story collections can be a little hit and miss, but this is a greatly compelling and scintillating collection. The nineteen stories featured are:

Swiftwing 98 by Peter O'Donnell
Some Sunny Day by Julian Rathbone
Funny Story by Larry Beinhart
Herbert in Motion by Ian Rankin
Roots by Jerry Sykes
Martha Grace by Stella Duffy
The Weekender by Jeffery Deaver
Needle Match by Peter Lovesey
The Bookbinder's Apprentice by Martin Edwards
Homework by Phil Lovesey
Laptop by Cath Staincliffe
The Message by Margaret Murphy
Fedora by John Harvey
Apocrypha by Richard Lange
On the Anatomization of an Unknown Man (1637) by Frans Mier by John Connolly
The Trials of Margaret by L.C. Tyler
Nemo Me Impune Lacessit by Denise Mina
The Dummies' Guide to Serial Killing by Danuta Reah
#MeToo by Lauren Henderson

My favourite in the collection is Jeffery Deaver's The Weekender. A top-notch collection, every crime fiction connoisseur or short story fan will find Daggers Drawn pure delight. Unmissable.

I received a complimentary copy of this novel at my own request from Titan Books via NetGalley. This review is my own unbiased opinion.
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I really struggled with this short story collection, which is unusual given that its publisher tends to be astonishingly good at anthologies. I wonder if some small part of that was due to how my brains have been practically leaking out my ears as I worked to hit several deadlines this past week (including the publication of my own brand new role-playing game system, <a href="https://dvaleris.itch.io/equinox">Equinox</a>.) Like, I had to sit down and re-read the introduction twice to see if I could properly grok the point of this book, which is apparently to collect in one volume the winners of the Crime Writers' Association's Short Story Dagger since the award was first handed out in 1983. Twenty of those stories have been included in this book, cut down from thirty-eight, as several of the authors won more than once (and picked out the one they liked best for inclusion here,) and at least one other is not permitting reprints. So this is essentially a really good look at the stories that crime writers have really loved over the past four decades or so.

Trouble is, I found very few of them surprising in much more than how envelope-pushing they were attempting to be. The first story, Swiftwing 98, by Peter O'Donnell writing as Madeleine Brent is clever enough. While I enjoyed the unusual cast of the next entry, Julian Rathbone's Some Sunny Day, I was quite underwhelmed with the mystery itself. Larry Beinhart's Funny Story was a thoughtful tale of crime and genuine evil wrapped in a morally ludicrous, if not outright terrible, framing device. Things started to go rapidly downhill from there on in. I was not a fan of the moralizing in Jerry Sykes' Roots, and I straight up cringed through Stella Duffy's Martha Grace, which reduced its title character to a punch line throughout. John Harvey's Fedora had a similar sort of punching-down feel to it, and I am 100% not surprised to discover that the author of Apocrypha, a tale narrated by a Black man down on his luck, is, as far as I can tell, a white guy. I also found the representation of neurodivergency in Denise Mina's Nemo Me Impune Lacessit incredibly grating, if not borderline offensive.

There were four stories here that I did very much enjoy, however. The Weekender by Jeffery Deaver and The Dummies' Guide To Serial Killing by Danuta Kot actually had twists I did not see coming. Phil Lovesey's Homework features a swotty teenage girl taking a page from Hamlet to exact some necessary vengeance. And the very last story, #Me Too by Lauren Henderson, gets in some of that punching-up that's necessary for any type of entertainment to escape soullessness.

It actually grieves me somewhat to think that any but the last four stories I mentioned were considered the best of the year by a group of what I always assumed to be esteemed, wise crime authors (granted, Swiftwing 98 had slightly different selection criteria, but it is also not a bad story.) Most of the selections that I didn't care for feel reactionary, as if pushing back against liberal ideas of empathy and civility and minority representation. I don't know if the stories were written that way on purpose, or if that was just an unhappy aftereffect of aiming for edginess. More surprising is that these stories were rewarded so handsomely for such an adolescent aim by people who ought to be widely read enough to know better.

That said, as a snapshot of what a certain group of people found prodigious each year round the turn of the 21st century, this is a highly illuminating collection. Alas that it's more intriguing from an anthropological standpoint than an entertainment.

Daggers Drawn edited by Maxim Jakubowski was published September 21 2021 by Titan Books and is available from all good booksellers, including <a href="https://bookshop.org/a/15382/9781789097986">Bookshop</a>.
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The Crime Writers Association hosts its Daggers Awards, awarding the best crime short stories. In this collection of nineteen award-winning stories, we meet drug dealers, forgers, detectives, and the hapless people caught up in traps they couldn’t imagine. 

We open with “Swiftwing 98,” where Inspector Lestrade is using a prediction program to prevent crime with his new Detective Sergeant; this isn’t the Lestrade from Holmes stories but his descendant, and there is a longstanding enmity that takes a decidedly deadly turn. Holmes figures again in another story, but I was more drawn to the stories that were original and didn’t rely on knowing the Holmes canon.

Jeffery Deaver’s “The Weekender” hit just right, with twists until the very last page of the story that you don’t see coming. 

I really enjoyed “The Bookbinder’s Apprentice,” which doesn’t seem like much of a crime story until you reach the very end of it. 

“Homework” was another twisting tale, with a student’s assignment outlining everything in a meandering tone until it all comes together at the very end. 

Denise Mina’s “Nemo Me Impune Lacessit” will draw chills to any parent that has a child that is out of control despite all their best intentions and all the help they can get. 

The final story, Lauren Henderson’s “#MeToo” is also chilling in a different way; the casting couch and the way that women are treated in major industries is appalling, and here it’s twisted and used to deliberate effect.

While these are short stories, that doesn’t mean that this book is a quick read. I found myself going back in each story, looking for the details that serve as clues that I missed. Sometimes there are none, it’s the menacing air before the proverbial shoe drops. Sometimes it’s figuring out the motivation behind the crime. We don’t always get one, but that doesn’t mean I won’t sit there for a while trying to figure out what happened. They’re chilling and crafty, and full of devious characters. Not all of the victims are innocent, and the effects of each story will linger long after you close the volume.
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This was a diverse and utterly entertaining set of short stories. I loved all the nods to golden age crime and also to Sherlock and Holmes. It's a great book to pick up and down and would make a wonderful present.
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I’m a lover of crime fiction and anthologies because you find new author to love and obsess over. Daggers Drawn sounded like just the thing for me. I enjoyed all of the stories, some a bit more than others. Some of my favourite writers had stories including John Connolly. I liked the diversity in the stories in that no two were alike.
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A superb collection of short stories from an impressive list of winners of Crime Writers Association awards. This diverse selection of totally different stories, highlights the range of styles and talent writing in this genre. Entertainment guaranteed!!
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Daggers Drawn, by Ian Rankin and Jeffrey Deaver, is a collection of short stories about crime. What is especially attractive about this collection is the variety of stories included. These 19 short stories are all winners of the Crime Writers Association Dagger Award. Some of the stories are sad ("Funny Story"), some creepy ("Homework"), some feminist ("Martha Grace"), and some are designed to drive the reader to madness ("Laptop"), right along with the protagonist.  Some stories are clever, like" The Weekender" which requires that the reader needs to get to the last line to fully grasp what has happened.  This is an anthology of stories to savor and reread.
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An excellent anthology of short stories , which have previously won the CWA  dagger . Each one draws you in and leaves you with the little twist at the end. Exactly what you would expect from the calibre of the writers combined in this compilation.
A great collection to sit back and enjoy with a coffee, even if you’ve only a time to read one story it will be one to be savoured! 
Highly recommended!
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Anthologies have many purposes. They cna explore a theme and how stories can play a multitude of variations but they can also offer a napshit of history. A good collection can also say this is what this particular genre can achieve in one year or unusually a period. The Crime Writer’s Association in the UK is nearly 70 years old and has an annual awards ceremony known with affection as the Daggers. In 1982 a Short Story dagger was created initially a open competition for stories that mentioned particular objects in a skilful story but then became a more standard best short story collection. Maxim Jakubowski has assembled 19 past winning stories to provide a fascinating look at the evolution of the crime story over nearly 40 years,

Among the stories I enjoyed were

Swiftwing 98 by Peter O’Donnell -  a surreal puzzler of a potential Cold War assassination threat being investigated by a new Detective pairing. This story goes ina  very meta direction to the one I was expecting but has an affectionate(ish) tribute to the author who created many a fine short story long ago.

Funny Story by Larry Beinhart - this is a skilled piece of storytelling. A rascally grandfather has decided to tell his 7 year old grandson about when he was a thief in pre-war Berlin. This tale explores family ties, the Holocaust and guilt in some fascinating ways and the way the backstories of all the characters is delivered very smartly and with a dark sense of humour. One of my  favourites in the collection

Herbert in Motion by Isn Rankin- as our lead character contemplates suicide after an event with the PM Rankin grabs you into a tale of art forgery. As well as the rising tension of our forger being found out a starry about the value and power of art. Really entertaining and again thought-provoking. 

Roots by Jerry Sykes - this is a much more disturbing tale of a childhood murder told by an accomplice. Sykes captures the feel of childhood bullies and again a tension of what happened next twenty years later with the threat of a year 2000 time capsule being the catalysts for the finale. 

Martha Grace by Stella Duffy - another powerful story of an affair between a young college student and an older woman mocked for her unattractiveness. Duffy makes this a tale of lust, love and quiet but powerful revenge. One of the darkest stories in the collection.

The Weekender by Jeremy Deaver - a thief talks about his robbery gone wrong thanks to his violent accomplice. They have kidnapped a witness who is also a top salesmen. It’s a tale of negotiation and getting what you want but as always with Deaver there is a sting in the tale. But the dialogue is a joy to read.

Homework by Phil Lovesey - a tale that is excellent thanks to the choice of character a year ten pupil working an essay about Hamlet until suddenly it’s clear this is a tale for her teacher to pay attention to. Revenge is delivered here beautifully - smart, funny and ingenious.

ON THE ANATOMIZATION OF AN UNKNOWN MAN (1637) BY FRANS MIER (actually by JOHN CONNOLLY - this bewitching eerie tale is someone telling us about a piece of art that may or may not exist. Art critique as confession is a tale that grabs and disturbs you.

The Dummies Guide to Serial Killing by Danuta Reah - another amusing tale of a would be serial killer who via the Dark Net has discovered a manual on how to become a Serial Killer. A tale with a dark thread of humour as it unwinds with its hopeless main character and a rather delicious final pub.

This is an overall entertaining tale of short stories with quite a few enjoyable tales to entice the reader. Also interesting to see how the genre has developed over nearly forty years - some have dated - the Costa Del Sol criminals and Cold War tales elsewhere in the collection really do feel dated in approach but crim fans should find that too enlightening. Good fun
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This is an anthology of short stories of CWA’s Dagger Award winners. I already knew some of them, I discovered some new interesting authors.
There’s a story for any type of mystery, some darker and some very funny.
My favorite were Swifting 98 by Peter O’Donnell, Herbert in Motion by Ian Rankin and The Bookbinder’s Apprentice by Martin Edwards.
Swifting 98 starts as a classic whodunnit but the final twist makes it a surreal masterpiece. Herbert in Motion is satire and story set in the world of art, the final twist was unexpected.
The Bookbinder’s Apprentice is story that could be the start of a horror or a thriller, this is one has a surprising final twists too.
You can read the stories one after the other or you can enjoy one and that jump.
It was an engrossing and entertaining  read.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to Titan Books and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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Daggers Drawn is the first retrospective deep dive into the prestigious Crime Writers’ Association’s (CWA) archive of Short Story Dagger Award winners from its inception in 1938 right through to present day, bringing many of the stories back into print and collecting together incredible modern crime authors such as Ian Rankin, Jeffery Deaver and John Connolly to deliver a cutthroat collection of serial killers, grizzled detectives, drug dealers and master forgers. Maxim Jakubowski is a leading and well-respected figure in British crime fiction, chair of the CWA and a celebrated multi-award-winning editor with over 70 anthology volumes to his credit. We all know short story collections have the tendency to be hit and miss, but I can honestly profess that I haven't got a bad word to say about this scintillating and wide-ranging collection that encompasses the mystery, thriller, suspense and horror genres magnificently. The nineteen stories featured are as follows:

Swiftwing 98 by Peter O'Donnell
Some Sunny Day by Julian Rathbone
Funny Story by Larry Beinhart
Herbert in Motion by Ian Rankin
Roots by Jerry Sykes
Martha Grace by Stella Duffy
The Weekender by Jeffery Deaver
Needle Match by Peter Lovesey
The Bookbinder's Apprentice by Martin Edwards
Homework by Phil Lovesey
Laptop by Cath Staincliffe
Fedora by John Harvey
Apocrypha by Richard Lange
On the Anatomisation of an Unknown Man (1637) by Frans Mier by John Connolly
The Trials of Margaret by L.C. Tyler
Nemo Me Impune Lacessit by Denise Mina 
The Dummies' Guide to Serial Killing by Danuta Reah
#Me Too by Lauren Henderson

Observe as a Senior Curator at the Tate Gallery constructs the perfect crime in Ian Rankin’s “Herbert in Motion”. Watch an unlikely romance sour into a deadly obsession in Stella Duffy’s “Martha Grace”. Face parents who discover their child has committed the unthinkable in Denise Mina’s “Nemo Me Impune Lacessit”. And in Jeffery Deaver’s “The Weekender” an intense hostage situation hits its peak in the most unlikely conclusion. 

This is a top-notch anthology from some of the greats of the genre in which you can sink in and totally immerse yourself in the writing or pick and choose at your leisure. There is something for everyone to enjoy here, and it is undoubtedly a must-have collection for any crime fiction connoisseur or short story fiend. An unmissable read of incredible quality with a selection of ingenious and devious tales that will keep you glued to the pages. Highly recommended.
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Daggers Drawn is a collection of short stories by a mouth-watering selection of well-known thriller writers and compiled by Crime Writer's Association Chair Max Jakubowski . All of these stories have won various of the "Dagger" awards from the CWA and the collection includes tales by Ian Rankin,Jeffrey Deaver, John Harvey, Denise Mina, Peter Lovesey , Julian Rathbone amongst others.

I enjoyed all of the stories but some were a lot better than others, I particularly enjoyed "Martha Grace" by Stella Duffy and Nemo Me Impune Lacessit  by Denis Mina, both "something a bit different", as is On the Anatomisation of an Unknown Man by John Connolly with his trademark Gothic strangeness.
 The Trials of Margaret by LC Tyler was very clever as well. 
Those were my favourites,the great thing about collections like this is that everyone will have their own opinions but I think most would agree that there are no "duds" in this one.

This is a fine selection of stories and all of them award winners so you can't go wrong.
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Crime Writers Association (proving that crime does pay, at least so long as you get published) since 1953 is an esteemed organization.  And genre establishment, really. And as such they have their own awards, The Daggers, given to the best of the best in crime fiction. This is an anthology of those Dagger deserving tales and it is absolutely excellent.
       This collection is arranged chronologically, and, to be fair, it starts off kind of unimpressively with two gimmicky Sherlock pastiches, but then it pivots dramatically and from the terrific third story on…it’s pure magic. 
        I never seem to remember the story titles, so I figured I’ll try to memorize the numbers of the stories, 3, 5, etc. but soon I realized there’s no need to do that, there are simply too many good ones in here. The quality is so uniformly great that this collection can be reviewed as a single body of work. 
        There are some widely recognizable names in here, but the majority are authors I’ve never heard off and because the anthology (at least the Netgalley provided ARC) doesn’t come with author’s bios, I’m still in the dark as to who they are. But then again, the dark isn’t such a terrible place to be when reading crime fiction, in fact it’s perfectly appropriate and editor recommended. Suffice it to say in this instance the name recognition mattered not at all, the unfamiliar names provided stories every ounce as good if not more so than the well known ones. 
        Right now, the market is all about mystery thrillers, they are everywhere, often sacrificing originality at the altar of commercial success, so it’s easy to just think of the entire genre as those formulaic works and yet crime fiction is so much more inclusive. It can be simply fine works of dramatic literary fiction, just so long as they feature crime is some way, shape or form.          This collection reminds you of that so nicely, by offering such a terrific variety, by offering such terrific writing. Because those ubiquitous mystery thrillers sometimes don’t take the time to actually craft the narrative, so long as they ply the formula. You take away the formula and sky’s the limit and this anthology takes it to the clouds. Such great stories, such interesting, original, compelling, fascinating, psychological tales of lives marred, altered and sometimes enhanced by crimes.
       Whether crime is a lucrative proposition or not may be up for debate, but it certainly pays to check this terrific crime fiction collection out. This…this is how it’s done.  Reader beware, the daggers are drawn, business ends out. An absolute must read for all crime fiction fans. Recommended. Thanks Netgalley.
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My thanks to NetGalley and Titan Bks for a copy of “ Daggers Drawn “ for an honest review  review .

I’m a recent convert to short stories , after recently reading the  excellent  “Murder Squad “ collection of books.
Previously I’ve found  general short story books a bit “hit and miss,” ,although I think with the genre of crime there tends to be a better storyline , with some sort of proper ending.
I can’t say I enjoyed everyone of these chapters , but taken as a  whole I’d definitely recommend this book to others .Some of these authors  I’d never read before , such as Jeffrey Deaver, but I’m now going to start on some of his novels..
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I enjoyed this collection of short stories from a wide range of authors. Although generally I prefer getting stuck into a longer, more demanding plot, a good short story is an excellent way to pass the time.  Each of these is just right for a short bus journey or waiting for an appointment  
Definitely recommended for anyone who enjoys a good thriller.
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Another cracking crime compilation from Maxim Jakubowski, this time pulling together 19 award-winning short stories from the Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) Dagger Awards. 

The Short Story Dagger award was introduced in 1982 and this collection begins with the winner from two years later, “Swiftwing 98” a beautifully compact story by Peter O’Donnell that feels familiar from the start and ends with a lovely little pay off. It’s a delight.

The rest of the stories don’t disappoint either. Shorts from some of the biggest names in crime-writing with the likes of Ian Rankin, Stella Duffy, Jeffrey Deaver, John Connolly and Denise Mina all featured and each are little gems worth every moment of your time.

It would be unfair to mention stand-outs but there are definitely a few, one of which has to be “Needle Match” by Peter Lovesey, a story of ball boys and a tennis grudge match in the 80s. And “Martha Grace” by Stella Duffy may well leave you open-mouthed at its conclusion.

All worthy winners of the “Daggers” and altogether a criminally good read. Buy it and savour it.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 (4.5/5 stars)

Thanks to #NetGalley and #TitanBooks for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Here we have a collection of nineteen short stories that have won the CWA Short Story Dagger over the 38 years since its inception. It’s pretty obvious therefore, that as winners they’re all going to be good and they are! It’s an eclectic mixture such as a spy mystery, several examples of the consequences of supping with the devil, what loyalty and love really mean, we have a conspiracy or three and some that are about guilt, atonement and revenge. A few have a sprinkling of humour albeit towards the black side of the colour spectrum, some are very dark such as The Book Binders Apprentice by Martin Edwards which is a real gut puncher. Some prove the old adage of the female of the species being a tad deadlier than the male. What they all have in common is how well they are all well written, the twists are clever, some more so than others and they all prove to me once again, just how much it’s possible to achieve in storytelling with well constructed, sharp and punchy short stories. 

Although I enjoy them all my favourites include Nemo Me Impune Lacessit by the wonderful Denise Mina which tells the story of eleven year old Jake. He demonstrates to his mother and father that as per the inscription above the portcullis at Edinburgh Castle  you do indeed ‘Cross Me and Suffer’. It’s a terrifically dark, shocking jaw dropper which is incredibly sad too. I really enjoy Danuta Reay’s The Dummies Guide to Serial Killing, so who’s the dummy now??!! Herbert in Motion by Ian Rankin is a very clever art based story with an excellent twist which makes me smile! Stella Duffy’s Martha Grace, who is a fine figure of a woman, is a story of humiliation and sweet sweet revenge. Finally, tennis anyone? Needle Match by Peter Lovesay is an intriguing story centred on Wimbledon with a couple of misdirections and a very surprising end. 

Overall, they’re all good, well written and so worth reading especially if you like crime based short stories. There’s a bit of something for everyone here! 

With thanks to NetGalley and especially to Titan Book for the much appreciated arc in return for an honest review.
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The Crime Writers Association created its annual awards, The Daggers, the well known prestigious set of crime writing awards, that include the short story dagger. The CWA chair, Maxim Jakubowski, has compiled a superb collection of outstanding crime stories to illustrate to readers the art of mystery short story writing at its best. None of the stories are recent, yet all had passed me by, I had read none of them, so I really appreciated this opportunity to read them. As any crime and mystery afficionado will know, these authors are a talented group of writers, ensuring that you are in for a real treat. There are 19 short stories in this anthology:

Swiftwing 98 by Peter O'Donnell
Some Sunny Day by Julian Rathbone
Funny Story by Larry Beinhart
Herbert in Motion by Ian Rankin
Roots by Jerry Sykes
Martha Grace by Stella Duffy
The Weekender by Jeffery Deaver
Needle Match by Peter Lovesey
The Bookbinder's Apprentice by Martin Edwards
Homework by Phil Lovesey
Laptop by Cath Staincliffe
Fedora by John Harvey
Apocrypha by Richard Lange
On the Anatomisation of an Unknown Man (1637) by Frans Mier by John Connolly
The Trials of Margaret by L.C. Tyler
Nemo Me Impune Lacessit by Denise Mina
The Dummies' Guide to Serial Killing by Danuta Reah
#Me Too by Lauren Henderson

It has to be said that some of the stories veer into horror territory, such as Edwards offering, Mina writes of the worst nightmare that can befall a family, and a murderer on trial misreads a jury. A woman that boosts a laptop from a man she refers to as The Wolf at Manchester Airport, is to live to regret her actions, and a NYC male predator in the film industry, in the Harvey Weinstein mould, gets more than he bargained for. An art expert from the Tate Gallery dreads a party at Downing Street, a grandfather relates a heartbreaking 'funny' story to his young grandson from his life as a gifted thief and we get a glimpse into a ex-con security guard's job at a jewellery store. Two schoolchildren find themselves serving as ball boys at Wimbledon, at a tennis match where it appears a murder has taken place and a student takes revenge on a teacher as we discover from her homework.

I found it extremely difficult to pick favourites from this wonderful collection, but I did love Martha Grace, a woman ostracised from the community as a 'witch' and 'dyke', I enjoyed the black humour in Danuta Reah's story of the making of a serial killer and the twist in Deaver's The Weekender is absolutely terrific. I cannot recommend this highly enough, particularly to those who love the crime and mystery genre, and even to those readers who tend to shy away from short stories! Many thanks to the publisher for an ARC.
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