FaceOff - Ian Rankin, Jeffery Deaver, Steve Martini, Steve Berry, John Sandford, David Baldacci, Dennis Lehane, John Lescroart, Lincoln Child, R.L. Stine, F. Paul Wilson, Michael Connelly, Douglas Preston, James Rollins, Heather Graham, Lisa Gardner, Raymond Khoury, Linda Fairstein



This is the 8th book from the International Thriller Writers, a group formed In Toronto in 2004. Instead of charging membership fees, the organization is funded by any profits garnered from these anthologies plus 2 audio books. The ITW now has over 2500 members in almost 50 countries & they enjoy the autonomy from their respective publishing houses that these collaborations provide. 

Many of the names are instantly recognizable from best seller lists. MJ Rose, John Sandford, David Baldacci, Dennis Lehane, Lee Child, Ian Rankin...a who's who in this genre. 

In this outing they've come up with a different format. Instead of individual short stories, authors have been paired & challenged to come up with a tale that pits their well known characters against each other. 

In "Red Eye", Dennis Lehane's Patrick Kenzie encounters Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch.

"Nick of Time" provides a setting where Ian Rankin's inimitable John Rebus has to work with Peter James' Roy Grace.

In "Rhymes with Prey" (pun intended), John Sanford's Lucas Davenport forms an uneasy alliance with Jeffery Deaver's Lincoln Rhyme. 

Perhaps the weirdest pairing features a creepy ventriloquist's dummy (courtesy of horror-meister RL Stine) taking on Aloysius Pendergast, the icy genius of Preston & Child's popular series. 

Each story is prefaced by a short blurb describing how the pair came up with their premise & worked out the collaborative process. They're an interesting & often humorous peek into the writing styles of these authors who have created some of the most iconic characters in fiction. 

Eleven stories in all, they range from 20-50 pages in length. It's a challenging format due to space restrictions & as with all anthologies, some are more successful than others. My favourite was "The Devil's Bones" in which the venerable Cotton Malone hooks up with Gray Pierce for a scary trip down the Amazon. And I'll take every opportunity I can get to spend time with the cranky fossil that is Rankin's John Rebus. 

It's a great way to catch up with favourite characters & be introduced to others for the first time. If this appeals, I would also recommend MJ Rose's excellent "In Session", a collection of 3 short stories where similar signature characters get a chance to meet.