Unusual Suspects, edited by Dana Stabenow
December 6, 2008
Unusual Suspects is a mystery/fantasy anthology. It’s a follow up to Powers of Detection, so if you liked that one then you know about what to expect. The stories all focus on crime and the supernatural. Some stories are urban fantasy, while others take place in more traditional fantasy worlds.
- “Lucky” by Charlaine Harris
This story is set before the events of From Dead to Worse. When Sookie and Amelia investigate a possible break-in at the office of a local insurance agent, they find a few surprises. Fans of the series should like this just fine.
- “Bogieman” by Carole Nelson Douglas
This one uses the author’s Delilah Street character. This story may be tricky for those, like me, who haven’t read a full length novel in this setting. The first several pages were pretty thick with confusing background information, but it was an enjoyable story once I was able to make enough sense of the details to follow the mystery. Delilah investigates the seemingly impossible murder of a recreation of Humphrey Bogart playing Sam Spade. Some of the character interactions were a little lost on me, but the world seems interesting.
- “Looks Are Deceiving” by Michael A. Stackpole
A magic user investigates the attempted murder of a lord that he dislikes. The magic was different and the mystery aspects were interesting, but this story suffered from a serious case of Fantasy Name Syndrome. In addition to the long (and sometimes too similar) names of the characters, there were a lot of unfamiliar names of places and nationalities to keep up with for one story.
- “The House of Seven Spirits” by Sharon Shinn
When a woman moves into a haunted house, she is surprised to learn that she can interact with the ghosts that the property manager warned her about. As she gets to know her roommates, she starts to figure out the secret that keeps them all bound to the house. This is one of the book’s best.
- “Glamour” by Mike Doogan
A peasant’s story about his missing daughter catches the attention of a stranger who begins to investigate. This story is funny at times because the main character doesn’t understand a lot of the things going on.
- “Spellbound” by Donna Andrews
Everyone suspects that there will be trouble when a group of witches comes to a wizard’s school for a conference. One of the apprentices thinks the worst she’ll have to deal with are the awkward seduction spells being aimed at her teacher, but when a murder takes place her observations come in handy.
- “The Duh Vice” by Michael Armstrong
In a future America where energy and food are strictly rationed, a man whose job is to find those using more than their share stumbles on a secret power source. I wasn’t crazy about this one. The protagonist felt flat and passive, he didn’t so much investigate the anomaly as get orders to check something out and then listen to a lot of explanations.
- “Weight of the World” by John Straley
After making their Christmas Eve rounds, one of Santa’s helpers is murdered. It has an interesting feel. I’m not sure if a holiday story fits in all that well, but I might just be burned out on them after reading so many Christmas stories lately.
- “Illumination” by Laura Anne Gilman
In a world where magic is related to electricity, a young woman with magical ability investigates the disappearance of her irresponsible father. I liked the characters and the setup. Apparently there’s a book coming out about the protagonist, so I’ll have to remember to check that out.
- “The House” by Laurie R. King
A teen and his friends are drawn to an abandoned house. This one is very atmospheric, it seems a little like one of those stories that your gullible aunt swears really happened to the cousin of a lady that goes to her church.
- “Appetite for Murder” by Simon R. Green
An aging detective joins forces with a superhero to catch a serial killer in the Nightside. Once again Green doesn’t disappoint, the clues in this story are very well done.
- “A Woman’s Work” by Dana Stabenow
Two women with special abilities work as traveling judges for their king. When they go to a land where women are treated more as property than people, they’ll have to challenge the society’s conventions in order to find a murderer. One of the best in the collection.