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Publisher: Simon & Schuster

FACEOFF is a gem of a find for fans of the thriller genre. Imagine many of the great thriller authors out there, teaming up to create short stories wherein their famous characters are working together (for the most part) on a single case. Such is the brainchild called FACEOFF, edited by the famed David Baldacci, and containing 11 short stories by authors the likes of Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly, Heather Graham, Lisa Gardner, Joseph Finder and even R.L. Stine, and more.

Red Eye by Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly brings L.A.'s Harry Bosch to Boston where he runs into Patrick Kenzie. Both men are seeking a single man, but for different reasons. Bosch is working a cold case murder, while Kenzie is trying to find the kidnapper of a missing young girl before her number comes up. Needless to say, their collaboration is explosive.

In the Nick of Time by Ian Rankin and Peter James forces Roy Grace and John Rebus, and their respective sidekicks, to work together to solve a murder that took place in Bristol, England during the 60's gang wars, when a dying man insists on confessing. But nothing is ever as it appears.

Gaslighted is a truly creepy story by R.L. Stine, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child and pits New Orleans agent Aloysius Pendergast against Slappy, Stine's iconic Ventriloquist Dummy. Let's just say that this story, combined with it's title, should be plenty enough to encourage you to read it. It's just great and was one of my favorites in the collection.

M.J. Rose and Lisa Gardner come together to craft The Laughing Buddha where Rose's Malachi Samuels is pitted against Gardner's formidable D.D. Warren following a murder in Boston's Chinatown. This story is different from the rest in that Samuels and Warren are working against one another, but it was still a fascinating read involving past lives and mysticism.

Surfing the Panther by Steve Martini and Linda Fairstein finds Paul Madriani working both with and sort of against Alexandra Cooper as they race to discover the whereabouts of a lost artifact from the tomb of Tutankhamen. While it wasn't one of my favorites, it has a terrific ending.

Rhymes with Prey by Jeffrey Deaver and John Sandford is a superb thriller placing the irascible Lincoln Rhymes in step with now married ladykiller Lucas Davenport as they attempt to stop a maniacal serial killer rooted firmly in New York's art world. Love the clever title, love the creepy tale.

Heather Graham and F. Paul Wilson team up in Infernal Night, where Repairman Jack and Michael Quinn will find themselves working the same odd case, one that is definitely rooted in some otherworldly machinations. This was also another favorite of mine in the collection and I will definitely be checking out both authors' books in the future.

Pit Stop by Raymond Khoury and Linwood Barclay is a real chiller and finds FBI Agent Sean Reilly haphazardly teamed up with Glen Garber when Reilly's terrorist suspect makes off with Garber's truck, containing Garber's little girl. This story was a real nail-biter and excellent to the end. These characters worked really well together in the story and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Silent Hunt by John Lescroat and T. Jefferson Parker is a story about two similar guys, both headed to Baja, Mexico for a fishing trip. When Wyatt Hunt and Joe Trona find themselves caught between a small Mexican fishing village, a dangerous cartel and a pile of gold, the bullets will fly.

The Devil's Bones by Steve Berry and James Rollins reunites Gray Pierce and Cotton Malone when a scientist returns from having been missing in the Amazon, only to have made some startling and deadly discoveries while there. The two will have to work together if they have any hope of stopping a deadly poison from falling into the wrong hands.

Last, but not least, is Lee Child and Joseph Finder's Good and Valuable Consideration, where Jack Reacher and Nick Hellar end up in the same bar, watching the Red Sox play against the Yankees. In between them is a man who is overly friendly, but clearly nervous and, as it turns out, in need of help. Leave it to these two to not only solve the problem, but crack a few heads while doing it. They don't agree on everything, least of all baseball teams, but they get the job done.

While I didn't love every story contained within FACEOFF, I did enjoy each and every one and I must admit to finding some new authors that I hadn't read previously, but now feel compelled to check out. If you like thrillers, especially short stories that you can read quickly, this is a great summer find. After all, who doesn't want a chill up their spine while basking on the beach?

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

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