by Stephen Crane
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Penzler Pick, September 2001: Frederick Forsyth is known as the bestselling author of classic thrillers such as The Day of the Jackal and The Odessa File, among others. He is far less known as one of our premier short story writers (even though he won an Edgar for "There Are No Snakes in Ireland"), so it is a pleasure to have a new book from this superb storyteller.
"The Veteran" tells the story of an incident in one of the seedier parts of London. A Ugandan shopkeeper witnesses the mugging of a middle-aged man by two thugs. The shopkeeper has a perfect view of the crime so, when the man dies of his injuries, it would appear that the two thugs, now up on a murder charge, will be convicted. But justice does not always come easily, and it comes in many guises.
"The Art of the Matter" recounts an ingenious and deliciously satisfying art scam. The twists and turns are breathlessly entertaining and just when you think it's over, there's one more way for the bad guys to get their comeuppance. "The Miracle" tells the story of an American couple in Siena on their way to a festival. They are stopped when a stranger tells them the story of the courtyard in which they stand. Some very wonderful things happened right there during the Second World War. Will the couple get to the festival? Will they care?
"The Citizen" is a heart-stopping suspense story set on board a flight from Bangkok to London. We get to know the flight crew and some of the passengers very well, and they are not all who they might appear to be. And "Whispering Wind," the longest story in the book, is a very ambitious piece about the Battle of Little Big Horn and what came later for several of the participants.
Each of the stories in this volume is Forsyth in top form. The writing exceeds expectations, the stories are never less than compelling, and the suspense in each of them is nonstop. --Otto Penzler
From Library Journal
This collection of four short stories and a novella may disappoint readers expecting one of Forsyth's international thrillers but not anyone looking for a good read. What is surprising is the thematic and geographical range of these pieces, all narrated in a solid realist style with sharply observed detail and engrossing, sometimes surprising plots. Always suspenseful, the stories take us into disparate worlds. "The Veteran" features London thugs, the police, and the courts, whereas "The Art of the Matter," a highly entertaining tale of revenge, delves into the world of auction houses. "The Miracle," which takes us to an Italian hill town during World War II, is related as if by a medieval fabulist but with its own modern twist, while "The Citizen," perhaps the least successful story, portrays drug smuggling via an airline flight. Most startling of all is "Whispering Wind," Forsyth's tale of the Indian wars in 1876, in which we discover that a frontier scout survived the massacre at the Little Bighorn. The scout's love for a Cheyenne woman, a magical tale that spans two different historical periods, makes for compulsive reading. Recommended for all collections of popular fiction.
- Ronnie H. Terpening, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The five novellas by Frederick Forsyth are filled with intrigue, investigation, and that special twist in the last paragraph that jolts the listener with a surprise ending. Patrick MacNee and Christopher Cazenove read the first four tales in a matter-of-fact manner, crisply enun-ciating the words but never interacting with the plots or characters. Their voices drone on and on, making the stories dull and forgettable. In the fourth tale, THE ART OF THE MATTER, the production is marred by chair-squeaking and page-rustling just when the tale starts to grab the listener's attention. The fifth tale, WHISPRING WIND, performed by Bruce Boxleitner, is worth the wait as he tells in breathless wonderment of the only survivor of Custer's Last Stand, Ben Craig. As the tale gains in momentum, Boxleitner wraps the listener into the suspense of Craig's experience. Unfortunately, one tale follows the next, and because there is no way to tell which story is on what tape, the listener is fored to experience them all. M.B.K. © AudioFile 2002, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine
*Starred Review* The five stories in this book by the author of such classic crime novels as The Day of the Jackal (1971) and The Odessa File (1972) deserve to be classics themselves. Combining sharp detail, fully realized characters, and clever lastminute twists, these small gems are polished to perfection. Here we have an attorney who has special plans for his clients; an art appraiser who exacts brilliant revenge for his unfair dismissal; and, in the book's longest story, the lone survivor of Custer's Last Stand. Forsyth has always been a masterful plotter, with a special affection for using elements that appear to come from out of left field but somehow work just perfectly. Fans of his novels will be utterly thrilled by this collection. Readers unfamiliar with his writings couldn't find a better introduction. Revenge, mystery, murder, deception--all the main themes of Forsyth's best novels are represented here in stories that showcase the author's ability to capture character and generate suspense in remarkably few words. The stories in this collection were first published on the Internet late last year; this is their first appearance in print. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
"Lucid, vivid and delightfully readable, Forsyth is a master word-spinner and a master of meticulous detail."-The Los Angeles Times
"Each of the stories in this volume is Forsyth in top form. The writing exceeds expectations, the stories are never less than compelling, and the suspense in each of them is nonstop. -Otto Penzler, a Penzler Pick for September 2001
"A smooth and satisfying read for anyone who likes his or her thrills in small packages." -Providence Journal
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