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Urban fantasy where mystery waits at the end of every alley and things that go bump in the night have something to fear...

1 The Bastard Stepchild - George R.R. Martin
2 Death by Dahlia - Charlaine Harris
3 The Bleeding Shadow - Joe R. Lansdale
4 Hungry Heart - Simon R. Green
5 Styx and Stones - Steven Saylor
6 Pain and Suffering - S.M. Stirling
7 It's Still the Same Old Story - Carrie Vaughn
8 The Lady is a Screamer - Conn Iggulden
9 Hellbender - Laurie R. King
10 Shadow Thieves - Glen Cook
11 No Mystery, No Miracle - Melinda M. Snodgrass
12 The Difference Between a Puzzle and a Mystery - M.L.N. Hanover
13 The Curious Affair of the Deodand - Lisa Tuttle
14 Lord John and the Plague of Zombies - Diana Gabaldon
15 Beware the Snake - John Maddox Roberts
16 In Red, with Pearls - Patricia Briggs
17 The Adakian Eagle - Bradley Denton

479 pages, Hardcover

First published October 4, 2011

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About the author

George R.R. Martin

1,196 books106k followers
George Raymond Richard "R.R." Martin was born September 20, 1948, in Bayonne, New Jersey. His father was Raymond Collins Martin, a longshoreman, and his mother was Margaret Brady Martin. He has two sisters, Darleen Martin Lapinski and Janet Martin Patten.

Martin attended Mary Jane Donohoe School and Marist High School. He began writing very young, selling monster stories to other neighborhood children for pennies, dramatic readings included. Later he became a comic book fan and collector in high school, and began to write fiction for comic fanzines (amateur fan magazines). Martin's first professional sale was made in 1970 at age 21: The Hero, sold to Galaxy, published in February, 1971 issue. Other sales followed.

In 1970 Martin received a B.S. in Journalism from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, graduating summa cum laude. He went on to complete a M.S. in Journalism in 1971, also from Northwestern.

As a conscientious objector, Martin did alternative service 1972-1974 with VISTA, attached to Cook County Legal Assistance Foundation. He also directed chess tournaments for the Continental Chess Association from 1973-1976, and was a Journalism instructor at Clarke College, Dubuque, Iowa, from 1976-1978. He wrote part-time throughout the 1970s while working as a VISTA Volunteer, chess director, and teacher.

In 1975 he married Gale Burnick. They divorced in 1979, with no children. Martin became a full-time writer in 1979. He was writer-in-residence at Clarke College from 1978-79.

Moving on to Hollywood, Martin signed on as a story editor for Twilight Zone at CBS Television in 1986. In 1987 Martin became an Executive Story Consultant for Beauty and the Beast at CBS. In 1988 he became a Producer for Beauty and the Beast, then in 1989 moved up to Co-Supervising Producer. He was Executive Producer for Doorways, a pilot which he wrote for Columbia Pictures Television, which was filmed during 1992-93.

Martin's present home is Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is a member of Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (he was South-Central Regional Director 1977-1979, and Vice President 1996-1998), and of Writers' Guild of America, West.


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Profile Image for Rebecca.
589 reviews33 followers
October 9, 2011
You can also read this review at Reflections on Reading Romance

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Despite its hardcover price, this is one of the better anthologies that I’ve read and well worth the money. The stories are outstanding and varied, and there’s a clear connection between them, as described in the prologue “The Bastard Stepchild,” written by George R. R. Martin. The bastard stepchild to which he refers is Urban Fantasy, an amalgam of the horror and mystery genres, and each of the stories features a mystery and detective of some sort. The anthology includes a total of sixteen stories, plus the prologue by George R. R. Martin. Originally I had planned on only mentioned a few of my favorite stories, but the excellent writing made it difficult to limit this review to only some of the entries. Here a few comments about each of the stories.

1. “Death by Dahlia” by Charlaine Harris We first met vampire Dahlia Lynly Chivers in the story “Tacky” in My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding, and she’s long been a favorite of mine. In “Death by Dahlia” the vampires have a new sheriff in control of their nest and they’re celebrating his installation with a huge party. When one of the human blood donors is murdered, Dahlia steps in to investigate. I’m not a fan of Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse books, but I always enjoy her Dahlia stories set in that world, and this one is no exception. It’s one of the more light-hearted offerings in the collection and is lots of fun. 3.5 out of 5

2. “The Bleeding Shadow” by Joe R. Lansdale This story has a film noir feel to it, and I loved it. The gritty private detective is asked by a hot dame to look into her brother’s disappearance when a record with some demonic sounding blues arrives at her house with frightening consequences. 3.5 out of 5

3. “Hungry Heart” by Simon R. Green Another lighthearted addition to the anthology, Green’s contribution features detective John Taylor from Green’s Nightside series. A young witch hires Taylor to recover her heart from her former mentor, but it turns out that the box holding her heart is of interest to many parties. The clever ending and Taylor’s humor throughout made this story a blast. 4 out of 5

4. “Styx and Stones” by Steven Saylor This story is part of Saylor’s Roma Sub Rosa series that stars Gordianus the Finder, and while it’s the first of his work I’ve read, it certainly won’t be the last. In this prequel to the series, we witness Gordianus as a teenager visiting the Seven Wonders of the World. When he and his companion Antipater arrive in Babylon, Gordianus is intrigued by the haunting of a nearby temple. While my four years of high school Latin aren’t enough to attest to the historical accuracy of the story, it’s a lot of fun and one of my favorites of the collection. 4 out of 5

5. “Pain and Suffering” by S. M. Stirling This story had a more paranormal feel to it than many of the others. Cop Eric Salvador finds his nightmares of his time in Afghanistan taking a strange turn when he and his partner investigate a bizarre arson and missing persons case. I enjoyed the story, but the ending felt abrupt and a bit open-ended, making me wonder if this is part of a series I’m not familiar with, although the short intro to the story didn’t indicate that it was. 3.5 out of 5

6. “It’s Still the Same Old Story” by Carrie Vaughn Set in the world of Vaughn’s Kitty Norville series, this story features vampire Rick, who responds to a phone call from an old friend, only to find her murdered. There isn’t much of a mystery, as Rick knows from the beginning who’s responsible for his friend’s death, but the flashbacks to when they met and how the mystery unfolds make this an enjoyable read. 3 out of 5

7. “The Lady is a Screamer” by Conn Iggulden Narrator Jack Garner is a charmer of a conman, working as a ghostbuster after years of taking advantage of grieving families by pretending to be a psychic. While he doesn’t seem all that likeable at the beginning, by the end you’ll be rooting for this ne’er do well. This was one of my favorites, no doubt because of the hero’s ability to win the reader over. 4 out of 5

8. “Hellbender” by Laurie R. King I enjoyed this entry by King that features a private detective who’s more than human. He’s approached by a woman to investigate the disappearance of her brother and seven other missing people. His digging into the mystery attracts some frightening attention, uncovering some disturbing interest into “scientific” developments. I liked how the story and truth about the hero unfolded, plus the twist about the government at the end made me laugh. 4.5 out of 5

9. “Shadow Thieves” by Glen Cook This is part of Cook’s Garret, P.I. series and almost lost me only a few pages in. Garret is approached by several different parties to recover a powerful artifact, but it’s very unclear who is trustworthy and who’s the rightful owner. The world building was intriguing, but the rough beginning and my lack of connection to the characters made this the weakest of the collection for me. I suspect that if I’d read other books in the series, however, I might feel differently. 3 out of 5

10. “No Mystery, No Miracle” by Melinda M. Snodgrass Set during the days of the Great Depression, Snodgrass plays with several mythologies and religions while creating a fascinating story. The hero, Cross, is posing as a hobo to look into some suspicious hobo markings that resemble signs from old gods. His investigation has him acting to ensure FDR’s presidential nomination in mysterious ways. This story has some of the tightest writing in the collection. 4.5 out of 5

11. “The Difference Between a Puzzle and a Mystery” by M. L. N. Hanover Cops call in an exorcist when they discover the body of a young woman apparently sacrificed in some sort of occult ritual. The man arrested for the crime claims to be possessed by a demon, but the real mystery stems from his reaction when confronted by the exorcist. Very intriguing story and I liked the resolution that still left some mysteries unexplained. 4 out of 5

12. “The Curious Affair of the Deodand” by Lisa Tuttle Set in the nineteenth century, Miss Lane is a gentlewoman seeking employment who finds herself acting as an assistant to a young detective. A man approaches them on his fiancée’s behalf, asking that they investigate her former fiancé’s death. The story began well, and I was intrigued by the female heroine’s role as Watson, but the ending left me a bit cold. Not badly written, but a little lacking in action or suspense. 3 out of 5

13. “Lord John and the Plague of Zombies” by Diana Gabaldon I haven’t read any of Gabaldon’s books, which no doubt affected my enjoyment of this story since Lord John is a recurring character in her Outlander series and has his own series. I actually stopped reading and had to pick the story up again later, because it didn’t capture my interest. However, if you’re a fan of her series, you’ll no doubt enjoy reading about Lord John’s adventures in the West Indies, and the various creepy crawlies on the island were almost more frightening the actual zombies. 3 out of 5

14. “Beware the Snake” by John Maddox Roberts Part of the author’s SPQR series of mysteries set in Ancient Rome, this story was a hoot. Decius Caecilius is asked by Caesar to investigate a missing swamp adder, a sacred being to some powerful allies of Rome. Decius’ dry humor makes light of the mystery, but the ending is a lot of fun, even though the story went by too quickly. As with “Styx and Stones”, I can’t attest to the historical accuracy of the story, but it was so enjoyable I’ll definitely be reading more of this author. 4 out of 5

15. “In Red, with Pearls” by Patricia Briggs This story is set in the world of Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series and features werewolf Warren, who is a favorite of mine. When his lover Kyle is attacked by a zombie, Warren steps in to investigate. I loved seeing Warren and Kyle together, and this was a tightly written story that draws you in at once. While I figured out the villain fairly quickly, there were several surprises. This is another winner from Briggs and a must for Mercy Thompson fans. 4 out of 5

16. “The Adakian Eagle” by Bradley Denton The choice to end the collection with Denton’s story was a wise one, as it is outstanding. Set on the Aleutian Islands during World War II and featuring a young private and an older detective (whom you will recognize once you’re well into the story), this mystery will keep you turning the pages. The discovery of a tortured eagle on the island leads to an investigation that exposes all the pitfalls of following orders without question. I loved the setting and the gritty tone of this story. 5 out of 5
Profile Image for Heather C.
1,457 reviews209 followers
March 14, 2012
In Red, With Pearls by Patricia Briggs ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

I really enjoyed this! I loved getting Warren's voice and thoughts and would love to know more about him and Kyle; Mercy's POV is just not enough. But I will take any insight into their relationship that I can get. 

Anyway, it was a sweet short story all about Warren and Kyle with a paranormal mystery. Unfortunately, I was still a little confused about how Warren figured it all out in the end. 
Profile Image for Lena.
1,139 reviews236 followers
August 23, 2020
The Bastard Stepchild (Introduction) by George R. R. Martin ★★★★★
“Maybe a few elves are still around, but if so, they’re likely hooked on horse or coke or stronger, stranger drugs, or maybe they’re elf hookers being pimped out by a werewolf. Those bloody lycanthropes are everywhere, though it’s the vampires who really run the town...”
Let daddy tell you all about urban fiction...

Death by Dalia by Charlaine Harris ★★★★½
I love Dahlia stories. This episode sees Dahlia solving a murder at a party for the new Sheriff.

Hellbender by Laurie R. King ★★★★½
In a world where Salamander people have mostly blended in with humans one private detective did not like how easily a fellow Sallow found him out. But he will help her anyway, help his kind, because blending in shouldn’t mean forgetting who you are.

Beware the Snake by John Maddox Roberts ★★★★☆
A short story from a series about a Roman senator who investigates crimes. I enjoyed it.

The Lady is a Screamer by Conn Iggulden ★★★★☆
A ghost hunter finds out that ghosts are real, makes some friends, and fights evil.

Lord John and the Plague of Zombies by Diana Gabaldon ★★★½☆
This is a spin-off gay soldier/sleuth character from the Outlander series. Lord John is sent to Jamaica to put down a slave revolt. I might read more of his story even though I have no interest in Outlander.

The Bleeding Shadow by Joe R. Lansdale ★★★½☆
A Lovecraftian story of a musician making a deal with the devil.

It's Still the Same Old Story by Carrie Vaughn ★★★½☆
The old lover of a vampire is murdered. I would have rated this higher but there was an annoying human cop failing to realize that the vampire was just humoring her.

Hungry Heart by Simon R. Green ★★★½☆
A private detective helps a witch, he knows is lying, find her heart. It’s a little complicated, a little out there and unpleasant.

Styx and Stones by Steven Sailor ★★★☆☆
A Roman times murder mystery set in the ruins of Babylon.

Pain and Suffering by S.M. Stirling ★★★☆☆
Down the rabbit hole in New Mexico with homeland insecurity and paranormal murders. It was a lot for a short story. I didn’t feel it.

No Mystery, No Miracle by Melinda M. Snodgrass ★★★☆☆
This was some kind of interdimensional demon(?) story about a good demon fighting bad demons. Possibly.

The Curious Affair of the Deodand by Lisa Tuttle ★★★☆☆
A Sherlock Holmes inspired story with some girl power and ghosts.

In Red, with Pearls by Patricia Briggs ★★☆☆☆
I have liked both Warren and Kyle in the past but in this story Warren was an asshole, an overbearing manipulative asshole. I was rooting for the witches!

The Difference Between a Puzzle and a Mystery by M.L.N. Hanover ★½☆☆☆
I believe this was a demon story but it failed to hold my attention.

The Adakian Eagle by Bradley Denton ★☆☆☆☆
What a turkey if an ending. It starts with a tortured bald eagles, continued with sad war stories, depressing hallucinations, and a vague ending.

Shadow Thieves by Glen Cook DNF
High fantasy does not blend well with short stories; too many characters, too much world building, just too much.

I listened to 16/17 stories that averaged out to 3.2 stars.
Profile Image for Nikyta.
1,405 reviews253 followers
February 27, 2012
I don't care what anyone says but Kyle and Warren really are mates! I love these two so much and always yearned for a story of their own. So, I'm glad they finally have one! Even if it's short.

I loved both Kyle and Warren and it was fun getting the story from Warren's POV so we got to see his thoughts and his adventures. I really wish there had been more to the story, though, because I don't think I could ever get enough of these two. They are just perfect for each other!

I very much enjoyed the story and I loved the mystery (I didn't have an idea of who actually sent the zombie out but was suspicious of the person behind it). However, I wish there had been more of Warren and Kyle's relationship. We get little snippets of them together but I would have liked to get deeper into their feelings and seeing more of them together. The ending was so sweet!

Otherwise, I loved the story and really hope there's more to come!

Merged review:

*This rating and review is only for In Red, With Pearls by Patricia Briggs. I may continue to read the anthology in the future but I have not decided.

I don't care what anyone says but Kyle and Warren really are mates! I love these two so much and always yearned for a story of their own. So, I'm glad they finally have one! Even if it's short.

I loved both Kyle and Warren and it was fun getting the story from Warren's POV so we got to see his thoughts and his adventures. I really wish there had been more to the story, though, because I don't think I could ever get enough of these two. They are just perfect for each other!

I very much enjoyed the story and I loved the mystery (I didn't have an idea of who actually sent the zombie out but was suspicious of the person behind it). However, I wish there had been more of Warren and Kyle's relationship. We get little snippets of them together but I would have liked to get deeper into their feelings and seeing more of them together. The ending was so sweet!

Otherwise, I loved the story and really hope there's more to come!
Profile Image for Ami.
5,769 reviews501 followers
August 31, 2016
This Review is ONLY FOR Patricia Brigg's "In Red, With Pearls"

I have to borrow this one, if only to read Patricia Brigg's short. Why? BECAUSE IT IS ABOUT WARREN AND KYLE from the Mercedes Thompson's series!!!

As a lover of M/M romance genre, I welcome Warren (the third of Adam Carpenter's werewolf pack) and his mate, Kyle, taking over the spotlight for once. Written from Warren's first person narration, it gives a glimpse of their relationship, including how Kyle accepts Warren's predatory nature. In this story, Warren -- who also works on his mate's office as an investigator -- is investigating why the person responsible for sending a zombie to kill Kyle. Helped by a witch by the name of Nadia, the answer takes a twist that I don't really see coming. It's an enjoyable story. I wish Ms. Briggs will consider making a full length spin-off of Warren and Kyle. It's great to see a gay couple in mainstream books :)
Profile Image for Kat.
1,674 reviews105 followers
January 9, 2012
Basic premise: Urban fantasy stories that center around mysteries/detectives.

I hate George RR Martin on a personal level at this point. His SOIAF series has pissed me off to the point that I have been unable to continue reading it. So here I have a volume of stories set in my favorite genre, edited by GRRM. There's a fantastic introduction to the book, defining UF and the connections it has to the mystery genre. Then he proceeds to give me an overly-large volume of mostly "meh"-level stories, some of which are only VERY loosely tied to the UF genre. And on top of it all, there's no Harry Dresden story in an anthology seemingly tailored to the concept of Dresden. Grrrrr....

Generally speaking, UF stories take place in the modern (or very near modern) day. WWII? Ok, I can deal with that. Ancient Rome?? Ancient Babylon??? WTF???? Some of these stories didn't even have an actual fantasy element to them, just a "possible" fantasy element that got disproven, making the stories NOT UF at all, but regular mysteries, if set in odd time periods.

I'm hacked off. I renewed this book from the library twice in order to finish the bloody thing and still paid a late fine. It's only real saving grace in my mind is the Patricia Briggs offering, which features Warren instead of Mercy. The Charlaine Harris story was ok, but I don't find Dahlia to be a particularly interesting/sympathetic character, so I can't get into the few stories I've seen about her.

Stupid GRRM. I'm going to go read something by an author who's dead already so I won't feel the urge to go out and murder someone anymore.

Profile Image for Sarah.
3,323 reviews1,014 followers
March 23, 2014
I have to confess I've only read one of the stories in this anthology so my rating is purely for In Red, With Pearls by Patricia Briggs.

I can't tell you how excited I was to see a story told from Warren's POV. Warren and Kyle have always been two of my favourite side characters in the Mercy Thompson series, I love their relationship and the fact that Warren holds his own against the very prejudiced members of Adam's pack (I'm not counting Adam in that group - I also happen to love that he is so supportive of Warren and Kyle's relationship!) always makes me smile.

So take two fabulous characters, throw in a supernatural mystery for them to solve and of course you have a winning story. My only complaint was that I wanted it to be longer! I would LOVE a full length book about these two, in fact while I'm wishing I'd also like one about Ben, and a whole spin off series starring Bran LOL.
Profile Image for Cathy .
1,944 reviews52 followers
February 10, 2012
The introduction by Martin was good, he really captured something about what I like so much about urban fantasy. He said it's the combination of mystery and horror that makes UF unpredictable and therefore keeps the readers turning the page to find out what happens next, where in traditional mystery, you know that it's probably the psycho who did it, or in horror it's probably the vampire. UF opens the door for a whole new mix of elements and outcomes and the creativity that it allows is a big part of what keeps me tuning in.

Format-wise, I really liked having the author bios before the stories. Most anthologies, if they have them at all, have them after the stories or at the end of the book, and I end up flipping around a lot because I like reading the information first. I like knowing who the authors are, if the story is a part of a series, etc. Plus, let's face it, anthologies exist to sell books, so why be coy with the information, put it out there so I can find it easily, don't make me hunt it down. I liked not having to go to my computer to look everyone up.

As for editorial variety, part way through the book I was pretty impressed with the choices, but by the end I was really frustrated. There was way too much historical fiction. I'm just not a fan and when almost half of the book is historical it's just too much. Just because it's different time periods doesn't make it variety, not if you aren't a fan of the concept. I didn't even read Roberts' and Denton's stories because by then I was just tired of the style, I'd reached my fill of trying new authors who's topics aren't what interests me anyway. With the expressed topic being anything PI and fantastic, I'd have liked to see more science fiction (2 stories) or even traditional fantasy (only 1), even though that isn't my favorite genre. Just more variety. It would have been a four-star book if I hadn't gotten too bored to read the last few historical stories.

Harris - It was typical Harris, she's written about this character in a few anthologies now and it isn't getting any more interesting. She just shoehorned her into the theme by having her investigate a crime. Harris sells books so she gets included in anthologies. It wasn't the worst story ever, but it wasn't special in any way.

Lansdale - This one had a lot of atmosphere, a good story. The first historical story in the book, it took place in the 1954.

Green - A typical John Taylor/Nightside story, it certainly fit the theme. The end was a bit abrupt.

Saylor - Normally I love history and facts worked into in my stories, but this was a series of lectures disguised as a story, disappointing considering how popular his books are. I don't know if it's because he's trying to squeeze so much into a short story or if his style changed for this prequel series, but it was really bad, more encyclopedia articles than story. It took place somewhere between 92-90 B.C.

Stirling - A very good story, solid writing, plot, all around very good. It made me want to read his books even though alternate history isn't normally my thing. (It wasn't history, it was actually one of only two sci-fi stories in the book.)

Vaughn - A decent story. I like Rick, but it wasn't really a mystery or PI story, it was just revealing things that he already knew. As you can see, this is a problem with authors who try to shoehorn existing characters and series into a themed book.

Iggulden - I didn't really see how this one fit the theme either, but it was a good story.

King - A terrific story, and the most successful in the anthology in making me want to order her books ASAP. Even though this was a sort of sci-fi story and her most famous books are a modern Sherlock Holmes homage, no connection, but storytelling is storytelling.

Cook - Another anthology success because I had the totally wrong impression about the kind of writer Cook is, I thought he wrote thrillers and was avoiding his books. This story was a bit frantic, perhaps because he was trying to introduce so much of what he's written about for 13 books into one short story. Often the more successful series authors do better focusing in on a supporting character for short stories in anthologies (see Briggs' story), but I liked the humor and variety of characters and will definitely be trying the series out. This was also the only traditional fantasy story in the book.

Snodgrass - A very fun story, she's a terrific writer, again anthology-in-action worked and I added some of her books to my high priority to-read list (the books that seem to be following this story with the paladin story line). I really liked his fear and vulnerability, it was such a different take on this very familiar character. The story takes place in 1932.

Hanover - This was a different anthology-in-action case, because I had a kind of bad impression of this author from the reviews I'd read of his new UF series. (Hanover is really a pen name for Daniel Abraham.) I've thought about trying the series a few times but I keep passing it up. But I liked this story. The end was a bit odd and I'm not sure I agree with how it was handled, but I did like the story and it's making me reconsider the series.

Tuttle - A good story, creepy and smart. Probably takes place in the early 1900s.

Gabaldon - It was very long. She's a good writer, but by this point I was getting tired of historical fiction and I only skimmed it. It's a good find for fans though, it's a substantial story. Takes place in Jamaica during the slave rebellions.

Roberts - Again, I was tired of historical fiction by now so I didn't even try it. This is in ancient Rome.

Briggs - An excellent story. This is the way to use characters from on ongoing series, focus in on a few supporting characters and let the narrow focus keep the scope from becoming too overwhelming for the short length of the story. This story should work equally well for fans of the series or new readers.

Denton - One last historical story, I just couldn't face it. This one was soldiers during WWII.
Profile Image for An EyeYii.
3,440 reviews57 followers
February 6, 2013
17 supposedly detective tales are mostly gruesome, spooky, scary, rather than intriguing lively puzzle-solvers, from elsewhere 5* authors. In degenerating order:

If, like me, TV "True Blood" sometimes pulls late night hours http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jRIUn..., Charlaine Harris, "Death by Dahlia" has a petite powerhouse vampire fond of naked romping and solving murder. "Beware the Snake" by John Maddox Roberts has Roman Decius Caecilius, brother-in-law of Emporer Cesar, solve a missing temple venomous reptile and poisoned priest. Lisa Tuttle starts with clever Victorians, Miss Lane and Mr Jesperson, like Watson and Sherlock, then degenerates to possessed artifacts "The Curious Affair of the Deodand".

Gabaldon's Lord John in Jamaica, and Denton's Papa Hemingway in a remote WW2 Inuit outpost are islands, not "urban" as the cover claims. Laurie King's salamander-humans and Igguldon's anti-Holocaust spirit promote tolerance better than same-sex lecture-layer from Patricia Briggs.

Such nagging by selection has worn out my interest in Dozois (co-)edited books, shame when authors have much potential. Check my Fan shelf where I list one each from a favorite author or series. http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/...

Short stories are how I find shiver-licious new writers. I'm considering separating off a Collections shelf. Any suggestions for a shorter name? Sets? Shorts?
Profile Image for Jenny (Reading Envy).
3,876 reviews3,037 followers
June 20, 2012
I let my blog readers select a new-to-me genre to read, and this is one of the two books I'll be reading that fall under "urban fantasy." George R. R. Martin promises in his introduction that urban fantasy is no longer an elf on a motorcycle wandering the streets of Toronto solving crimes.

Really, though, most of these stories connect to series the authors write. Without that background, they often lack enough context to figure out where you are without knowing the characters and world they inhabit. From reading other people's reviews, many people are buying this anthology because of one story they wanted to read. Most people seem to be buying it for "In Red, with Pearls" by Patricia Briggs, but see, I don't know who Kyle is.

Most of these stories have detectives in a noir-fantasy universe, with a lot of stereotypes. There isn't a lot of great writing here.

The one exception is Joe Lansdale's "The Bleeding Shadow," where a record possesses the power to unleash the evil in the air around us, but still make you want to play it. Wow, creepy stuff, and the reader on this one elevated the story.

I'm not sure I'd recommend this to anyone who isn't already a fan of these authors and their series. It isn't a good introduction to the urban fantasy subgenre, which is what I intended to use it for. It is a very narrow slice of that subgenre, and not all of it is great.
Profile Image for Lisa Wolf.
1,606 reviews172 followers
October 9, 2011
I bought this collection of urban fantasy short stories specifically to get my hands on the new novella by Diana Gabaldon, "Lord John and the Plague of Zombies". For anyone devoted to the works of Diana Gabaldon, this is yet another fun addition to the Lord John series -- not exactly essential, but another chance to see Lord John apply his upper-crust British military efficiency to the solving of a seemingly supernatural mystery. Gabaldon knows how to please her fans. LJ&tPoZ includes just enough of all the elements that make her readers salivate, including a reference to our favorite red-headed Scot, Lord John's attraction to every well-formed male in his vicinity, and this time around, a cameo appearance of an important (though, at least for me, much despised) character from the Outlander series.

I'm sure the rest of the stories in this collection are quite good as well, and I'll get around to them eventually. For readers like me, the Lord John piece is reason enough to pick this one up.
Profile Image for Kathy Davie.
4,652 reviews702 followers
March 5, 2016
There are 16 short stories with a common theme of mystery and private detectives, whether the individual story is of fantasy or reality, well, that's up to the individual author.

I suspect Martin and Dozois are including Martin's introduction, "The Bastard Stepchild" as part of the story count. I do suggest reading it as it sheds light on the theme of the stories to come.

"Death by Dahlia" (Sookieverse)
"Hungry Heart" (Nightside, 1.5)
"Styx and Stones" (Roma Sub Rosa, 0.5a)
"Pain and Suffering" (Shadowspawn, 2.5)
"It's Still the Same Old Story" (Kitty Norville, xx.5)
"Shadow Thieves" (Garret, P.I., xx.5)
"No Mystery, No Miracle" (Edge, 2.5??)
"Lord John and the Plague of Zombies (Lord John Grey, 3.5)
"Beware the Snake" (SPQR, XII.V)
"In Red, with Pearls" (Mercy Thompson, 6.5)

The Stories
Charlaine Harris' "Death by Dahlia" loosely follows the hierarchical concept for vampires introduced in the Sookie Stackhouse series with a brief cameo from Diantha, but that's as close as it comes to a Sookie Stackhouse short.

You'll enjoy the story more if you aren't wondering where Eric, Pam, or Sookie are… An unexpected death while celebrating the new sheriff in town forces Dahlia to quickly investigate.

Joe R. Lansdale's "The Bleeding Shadow" is an amazing story combining horror with mystery when Alma May gets worried about her jazz-playing brother and asks an old friend to investigate. It's set in a 1930-ish Texas. Excellent and CREEPY!!

Simon R. Green's "Hungry Heart" finds John Taylor hired to find a witch's heart that she claims has been stolen. Hey, it's the Nightside, everybody lies. Another pip from Green.

Steven Saylor's "Styx and Stones" just goes to show that tourism and vandalism are universal when Antipater and Gordianus visit Babylon to see what's left of the famous Hanging Gardens only to encounter a lemur, a ghost, who kills...bwah-ha-ha… I must pick the first in this series, Roman Blood , unless I can find the prequel, Seven Wonders .

S.M. Stirling's "Pain and Suffering" finds Eric Salvador, a Santa Fe police detective, investigating an arson case with his partner, Cesar Martinez. An interesting blend of detection and horror with characters I found intriguing.

I thought Stirling had created an excellent first step in what could be a terrifying war, and I want to read more of the Shadowspan series. Then I discovered this is actually 2.5 in the chronology. I definitely have to get serious about reading Stirling!

NOTE: Now that I've read Shadowspawn 1 & 2, I've discovered that this simply takes bits and pieces from 1 & 2, focusing on the detectives investigating the fire trap Adrienne set in Ellen's apartment.

Carrie Vaughn's "It's Still the Same Old Story" is a tale about Rick and a woman he met sixty-some years ago. A woman he could have loved and chose to protect. It's a snapshot into Rick's long life with insight into how he thinks, how he loves. And I just wanna cry...

Conn Iggulden's "The Lady is a Screamer" is actually pretty funny about this con artist who suddenly discovers he's not. I enjoyed reading about the "partners" he picked up along the way and how very useful they were...

Laurie R. King's "Hellbender" is a story of bigotry and one in which the government actually lives up to its promise, much to the missings' dismay. A small group of people are targeted and only one person is still free to point out the connection. A good one, if a bit vague on some points.

Glen Cook's "Shadow Thieves" is my very least favorite, mostly due to being so incomprehensible. Cook dropped us in and didn't worry whether we swam or sank. Nothing about how the world, all we learn about the characters is as a play in progress---and his characters make no sense either. If this is typical of his writing, I ain't reading any more.

Melinda M. Snodgrass' "No Mystery, No Miracle" is fascinating. It's another of those drop-us-in sort of stories, but Snodgrass provides a background---I suspect it's the start of the Dust Bowl years---and motives we can immediately understand, even if the characters are not human. She certainly does a unique twist on religious figures! I couldn't help but laugh at? with? Cross as he fervently stated that he did believe. I want to read more about these characters if only to confirm my guess!

M.L.N. Hanover's "The Difference Between a Puzzle and a Mystery" is in one word---eeek! It starts out seeming enlightened with the police chief okaying an exorcist. A nice, somewhat innocuous guy. But it descends quickly at the end, leaving me with questions. Not very nice questions. Hanover seems like such a mild writer...don't you believe it!

Lisa Tuttle's "The Curious Affair of the Deodand" was quite clever and a more modern version of a Sherlock Holmes-type detective with his female Watson. I must look Tuttle up and pick up some of her books.

Diana Gabaldon's "Lord John and the Plague of Zombies" touches down in Jamaica about the time that Jamie and Claire are there, and I kept turning the pages, expecting to encounter them. Mrs. Abernathy is still alive at Rose Hall and has just killed her husband, so maybe I'm still a bit early?? Then again, maybe she's not the woman I'm thinking of as Claire described this iteration of Gellis as incredibly fat which Gabaldon does not say in this short story.

Anyway, it was good with a breath of fresh air in terms of Lord John being a decent sort and not the typical English jerk of the times. He's Lieutenant Colonel Grey now, and I enjoyed "getting to know" Major Fettes and Captain Cherry while Lord John is very careful in determining the truth and playing fair.

John Maddox Roberts' "Beware the Snake" and I ain't sure which "snake" he's referring to in this title---the one that slithers on the ground or the one who walks upright. I very much liked Decius Caecilius and his sense of humor. It was fun to read an ancient Roman mystery with DC's contemporary-sounding snark! Cynicism and stupidity are certainly timeless and universal. Julius Caeser needs DC to investigate the theft of a revered snake, and you will crack up at DC's questions and musings about the whole affair. I loved how well he pulled us into the scene. I've already put my order in for The King's Gambit .

Patricia Briggs' "In Red, with Pearls" is a side story off the Mercy Thompson series and focuses on Warren and Kyle Brooks. Warren has recently come to work at Kyle's law firm as a private detective. And a good thing too when someone sends an assassin with nothing more to lose.

Bradley Denton's "The Adakian Eagle" was excellent, although he drove me a bit nuts with wondering who Pop was until he put me out of my misery. An intriguing little story in which we pop into the middle of events and done very well with a distinct beginning, middle, and end---although not in the order one would expect!

The Cover
The cover is definitely urban with the alley and garage door tucked into the corner of high-rise buildings, vents, and puddles. The fantasy is evoked with the pillar of smoke rising up behind the miniskirted woman in her high-heeled pumps and leather jacket standing in partnership with the on-alert male in jeans, boots, and his own motorcycle jacket, gun dangling at his side.

The title is a reference to Martin's statement referring to urban fantasy as "the offspring of two older genres": horror and mystery, the noir type of mystery and Chandler's statement regarding "down these mean streets", and that is where we go, exploring Down These Strange Streets.
Profile Image for Meredith.
Author 1 book12 followers
February 28, 2015
The bastard stepchild, by George R.R. Martin -- This is an essay that opens the book. Other than what seemed to be a delight in light profanity for its own sake, I found the essay interesting and thoughtful. It really sets the stage for the stories that follow and why they are part of this collection. It was the first time I'd ever read anything my George R.R. Martin, and I know understand why he's so popular. He's got a great turn of phrase that helps you understand what he's driving at. I did find it interesting for as often as he references Harry Dresden, there wasn't a Dresden story in the mix.

Death by Dahlia, by Charlaine Harris -- I've only read Sookie stories via short stories in anthologies. I may need to dig into the series one of these days. Dahlia, whom I remember from another short is fun to follow. The mystery is just the right size with what feels like a nice peek into the inner workings of vampire culture.

The Bleeding Shadow, by Joe R. Lansdale -- Classic noir, set in a post-WWII black community. Rick, an unofficial P.I. since law and culture forbid him from being a legit P.I., is asked a favor of an old flame. It involves the blues and a twist on the classic crossroads demon.

Hungry heart, by Simon R. Green -- Very much in keeping with his Nightside series. Felt like a pared down version of on of his stories. Alright, but perhaps more enjoyable to someone first being introduced to the Nightside. (Though if I have to hear about his "inner eye, his secret eye, his private eye" one more time, I may hurt someone.)

Styx and stones, by Steven Saylor -- Interesting concept of characters from the Roman empire. Apparently this was a story about a 'chlidhood' adventure of a character who is an adult in the regular series.

Pain and suffering / by S.M. Stirling -- Took me a while to figure out that the nightmares were more so prescience that flashback. Good dark, ominous feel.

It's still the same old story by Carrie Vaughn -- A story that explores the decades long friendship (with benefits?) between a vampire named Rick and the fully human Helen.

The Lady is a Screamer by Conn Iggulden -- Well crafted unlikeable narrator. He's honest about who he is and what he's done with very little apology. Toward the end we get something grittier and deeper that's satisfying.

Hellbender / Laurie R. King -- Interesting exploration of prejudice, group rejection and acceptance of identity, de-humanization, and triumph of the human spirit, all based on the what if human DNA and salamander DNA were successfully mixed.

Shadow thieves / by Glen Cook -- Seriously could not make heads or tales of what was going on. Way too many characters to have a clear sense of any of them. Way too much explanation stuffed into a short space. Plus, the voices the narrator was doing were wicked annoying. Finally fast-forwarded through to the next story.

No Mystery, No Miracle / by Melinda M. Snodgrass -- Set in the Depression era, a Mr. Cross

The Difference Between a Puzzle and a Mystery / by M.L.N. Hanover -- Well crafted, with a slow build. Quality X-Files-like ending. Particularly liked insider's comment by the protagonists to his captain toward the end, "Doing the work of angels." :: shiver::

The Curious Affair of the Deodand by Lisa Tuttle -- Very much a nod to the Sherlockian tradition, even set in the Victorian England with a reference to the "Sherlock stories". I liked the strength of the female lead and the skill of the female narrator with providing her a slight Scottish accent. It also made me realize how few of the stories had female leads or primary characters in this collection.

Lord John and the Plague of Zombies by Diana Gabaldon -- Again, a story with a whole lot more canon, yet incredibly accessible. Appreciated how Grey's sexuality mattered, in small ways came into play, yet just as Lawrence in the Temerier series, his professionalism as an English officer came before everything else.

Beware the Snake / by John Maddox Roberts -- Part of the PQRS(?) series, apparently. Set in the time of the Roman empire, with a character who is a nod to Sherlock Holmes in deductive reasoning, but with a lighter hand and humor mixed in. Curious to seek out more.

In red, with pearls / by Patricia Briggs -- I enjoyed this story. Curious about the greater canon. I liked the blend of plot and relationship.

The Adakian Eagle by Bradley Denton -- The protagonist was pitch perfect - young, naive yet painfully burdened with an ugly secret. Pops was great as well. Great twist at the end and the narrator did a great voice for them. Pops had that perfect military gruff voice.
Profile Image for Nicole.
Author 5 books37 followers
January 23, 2022
I skipped stories I wasn’t interested in or that weren’t to my taste (I'm not into "hardboiled"/ noir-ish stuff); and I ran out of time because I had to return the book to the library and didn’t want to renew it for longer to read more.
I enjoyed some of the stories.
The introduction—“The Bastard Stepchild”—by Martin, discussing the origins of urban fantasy, is wryly witty.
“Styx and Stones” by Steven Saylor – a story of his Roma Sub Rosa series. It's historical mystery with a spook factor/suggestion of the supernatural that turns out to be a ruse. I liked the writing style and the voice of the narrator/main character, Gordianus. I also enjoyed the descriptions and sense of place. I may seek out one of the novels.
“It’s Still the Same Old Story” by Carrie Vaughn – Despite not being into vampires, I liked Rick when he turned up in the Kitty Norville series. The mystery is understated, the motive interesting in terms of the timing. I enjoyed the stuff about Denver in both timelines. I liked how Rick keeps some humanity despite being a vampire. He can feed without killing or turning someone. He’s decent, he’s classy. He keeps his cool. He’s chivalrous and actually likes women. He’s protective of those he cares about. I found the encounter with Helen surprisingly sexy. This story reminded me that I’d heard of another story about Rick and prompted me to go out and buy the collection it’s in.
“Lord John and the Plague of Zombies” by Diana Gabaldon – I wasn’t crazy about Outlander, but I know the author has skills; so I decided to give this a try. I liked it. The historical mystery is good and has some twists; I was surprised about the details. The setting was very interesting; I don’t think I’ve read about Colonial Jamaica before. I liked Lord John Grey. He’s a good man, a good officer, principled, ethical. He isn’t very prejudiced for someone of his time and social status, although he’s not open-minded enough to think that all slaves need to be freed. He’s very sympathetic in terms of the predicament of his sexual orientation.
“Beware the Snake” by John Maddox Roberts – one of his SPQR stories about a Roman aristocrat, Decius Caecilius, and another historical mystery with what seems like supernatural potential but turns out to be plain ol’ rotten human nature. It’s true to the era, and as such, the offhand references to slaves made me cringe; but the sense of atmosphere was good. There’s wry humour, especially in Decius’ interactions with his wife, Julia. The mystery is light but entertaining—and informative about snakes.
“In Red, with Pearls” by Patricia Briggs – a Mercy Thompson series tie-in. I’d avoided the MT books after maxing out on werecreature-centric stories for a while, but I thought I’d try this. And I really liked it! Good writing style, dialogue, characterization. Often sarcastic humour (including the Russian witch’s hilarious pet names for Warren). I really like Warren Smith, cowboy private eye, who also happens to be a werewolf and gay. He has just the right amount of Southern charm, and he's smart. He has a nice relationship with his lawyer boyfriend, Kyle. The plot is twisty, and I did not see the significant developments coming. I’m adding the Mercy Thompson books to my to-read list, after all.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Margaret.
Author 15 books85 followers
September 29, 2014
This book is touted as "urban fantasy" which is something I will take issue with. Several of the stories are by prominent writers of historical fiction and the stories are to me, historical mysteries NOT urban fantasy.

For it to be urban fantasy the stories all need to have the frisson of the unexplained - ghoulies and ghosties and long-legged beasties, and things that go bump in the night.

A number of stories fit that category, the vampires in Charlaine Harris' story for example. And S. M. Stirling's creepy story "Pain and Suffering". But my favourite stories were, in actuality, straight out historical mystery fiction. I have seen all the authors in mystery anthologies many times before. Not to mention having read their full length novels.

Steven Saylor's Gordianus the Finder as a young man solving a murder in the ancient city of Babylon in the story "Styx and Stones".

Diana Gabaldon's wonderful Lord John Grey is out and about in Jamaica in "Lord John and the Plague of Zombies". Never mind Outlander, Diana needs to give us more Lord John.

But the story that delighted me the most was John Maddox Roberts' story "Beware the Snake" using his delightful creation Decius Caecilius from the SPQR mystery series. This story, whilst having a wonderful mystery (no ghosts, no vampires, no werewolves and no bloody zombies)had some of the funniest laugh out loud moments of any story I have read in ages:

"The Claudians," I observed, "are a family of insane hereditary criminals."

"Look out!" Julia cried. "He has a snake! And he'll use it!"

Pretty much sums up the book, really.

Profile Image for Liviu Szoke.
Author 28 books359 followers
March 18, 2016
Din recenzia de pe blog: „Bun, ce să spun, din șaisprezece povestiri mi-au plăcut foarte mult vreo cinci, încă vreo cinci destul de mult, iar restul, așa-și-așa. Nu știu dacă aceste povestiri și nuvele au fost scrise la comandă, adică editorii să le fi cerut autorilor să scrie câte o povestire special pentru această antologie sau dacă editorii au ales ei din noianul de povestiri urban fantasy răsfirate prin reviste, antologii sau culegeri de autor, cert e că multe dintre povestiri de abat de la subiect. Însă din fiecare povestire în parte poți extrage ceva folositor, ceva plăcut, un crâmpei de informație colo, o descriere minunată dincolo, un personaj pestriț în altă parte, o idee mirobolantă cu care autorul se joacă și o pune cu măiestrie în scenă, iar faptul că majoritatea autorilor au fost o premieră pentru mine și că pe mulți îi așteptam de mult să fie traduși, nu face decât să recomande această antologie cu povestiri care mai de care mai diverse. În opinia mea, merită citită, pentru că e imposibil ca până și cel mai pretențios cititor să nu găsească ceva pe gustul lui”. Mai multe, pe Blogul FanSF: http://wp.me/pz4D9-2mU.
March 14, 2012
Only read: In Red, with Pearls by Patricia Briggs

A zombie shows up at Kyle's law office intending to kill him but luckily Warren steps in and takes care of it with some help from the witch, Elizaveta. Now all Warren has to do is find out who sent the zombie.

I was so happy to find out that there is finally a story about Warren and Kyle! (Thank you Heather C.) Obviously, the main problem is that it is way too short and now enough alone time for Warren and Kyle. I did love seeing Warren's protective side come out. It was also interesting to learn more about why Warren doesn't just jump into things and how smart he really is.

I do have to say that I didn't figure out who the "bad guy" was till almost the end. There were a lot of layers to the story and it wouldn't been nice to have them played out a bit more. I also wouldn't have minded a cameo of Mercy (with Adam of course!).

Favorite line:

♥ "Forbidden fruit is the sweetest, Warren, my darling."
Profile Image for Jennifer .
407 reviews1 follower
October 10, 2011
I'll admit that I bought this only for Gabaldon's short, "Lord John and the Plague of Zombies." Setting: 18th century Jamaica. Lord John is called to help subdue an uprising of slaves in the hills of the island. While staying at the governor's mansion, he gets quite the surprise and he's left with the task of solving a murder as well.
This is classic Gabaldon: witty dialog, a fun mystery, a smattering of the occult :) And all the while, John still pines away for Jamie :)
Profile Image for CatBookMom.
995 reviews
March 15, 2017
I borrowed this to read the story about Warren and Kyle from Patricia Briggs ("In Red, with Pearls"), but I found quite a few well worth the reading. I'm not a big Diana Gabaldon fan, so I think this was the first story I've read about Lord John ("...and the Plague of Zombies"); it's a good story, as story, but I don't have any interest in reading more about him. Laurie R. King's "Hellbender" is a very good story, very different from her Mary Russell books. The last story in the collection, "The Adakian Eagle" by Bradley Denton, has some really shocking elements, but is a good story, worth reading. As I've written this review, I've raised this to 4 stars.
107 reviews
February 27, 2012
Although I'd give a story or two in this collection 5 stars, I've got to give the overall collection just 2.

This is NOT a collection for light and humorous paranormal romance/thriller lovers. It's a weird collection of that type of headliner, coupled with other straight mystery writers all being asked to write old fashioned hard-boiled detective/noire type stories.

It's billed as an urban fantasy collection, but it's not that either.

I picked it up for Patricia Briggs, Diana Gabaldon, and despite Charaine Harris...but was alternately pleased and disappointed with what I got. The three previously named writers penned stories I enjoyed...but some of the other picks were so difficult to read that I just abandoned the effort. Heavy plots, poorly introduced characters, and uninteresting conflicts abounded. There were shining gems, though, in the midst of the muck, so it wasn't a total loss.

Briggs fans should give at least her story a go...as it gives a little insight into Warren and Kyle, two of my favorites of her Mercy series characters.

I'd get this one from a friend or the library. I find it hard to believe that any one reader would like enough of the whole book to make it worth a purchase.
Someone needs to reign in George Martin and winnow his choices to a single category next time.
Profile Image for Anna.
192 reviews50 followers
July 3, 2013
I had to borrow this book because I was only interest in the story by Patricia Briggs, featuring Warren and Kyle from the Mercy Thompson series. So this review is only about that story.

I loved it, but at the same time I was left wanting more. Much More. The mystery part was really interesting and I liked, but I wish he would've gotten more of Warren and Kyle. We don't really learn anything more about their relationship, it was like I was reading the book from an outside character and not from Warren. But I'm still giving this four stars because I liked the mystery and the stolen moments between Warren and Kyle were so sweet. I hope some day Briggs decide to write a book about these two, like many m/f authors are doing.
Profile Image for Bubbles  Hunty Honest & Direct Opinions .
1,314 reviews270 followers
March 2, 2012
This was warren and Kyle! And I love them and adored this short but it was too short.

I don't feel like I got to know them or their relationship any better than I do when it is seen through Mercy's perspective.

The little mystery and investigation was nice but I'd like to get to know the characters more and see them together.
Profile Image for rick..
250 reviews17 followers
April 19, 2017
Set in the Aleutian Islands during World War II, Bradley Denton brings an unique setting and mysticism to his paranormal detective short story The Adakian Eagle. Our protagonist is a private in the army, stationed on Adak island which is home to both army and navy outposts. He is ordered by his lieutenant colonel to investigate an unsettling scene, high on the mountain, which appears to indicate animal sacrifice and potentially more disturbing crimes. The resulting investigation involves political intrigue, native mysticism, and tests the private’s commitment to truth and duty. The writing does not flow naturally and perhaps is trying to imitate the terse cadence of noir detective stories, but initially reduced my enjoyment. I think the choice of location and timing was an inspired decision which setup a lot of thoughtful tension and intersecting motives. The twists and turns of the investigation seemed logical and earned, and ultimately delivered a nice complex back story, character development and resolution.
Profile Image for Venus.
133 reviews5 followers
August 1, 2018
I keep on convincing myself that I like short story anthologies like this, but really, in practice, I hate the damn things.

This one seemed to really hit on all those things I dislike about anthologies. Of the 16 stories, only 6 of them as far as I can figure were original content while the other 10 were one offs based on existing series. Basically, things not good enough to be published with the rest of it. While some of them were good, and some of those I actually loved, I find them to be such a problem because all the characterization is in the novels. I'm not gonna read 16 novels so I can understand a character.

And ofc, there were the obligatory 2 or 3 stories that had little or nothing to do with the actual theme of the anthology. It happens, especially when the subject matter might be obscure but good god, you can't swing a dead cat without hitting an urban fantasy book. Surely, some of those authors could have written something?
Profile Image for Florin Purluca.
Author 40 books27 followers
March 22, 2017
Ca în cazul oricărei colecții, n-ai cum să îndrăgești toate povestirile pe care le cuprinde. Mărturisesc, unele nu mi-au plăcut. Atât de mult, încât am abandonat lectura. Altele nu mi-au plăcut, dar m-au dus până la final. Și au mai fost două povestiri - Diferența dintre o enigmă și un mister, Vulturul adakian. Ei bine, astea mi-au plăcut. Foarte mult. Execuție foarte bună, mesaj, atmosferă - cam tot ce se cuvine unei lucrări executate cu simț de răspundere.
Și dacă tot veni vorba despre simțul răspunderii, unele povestiri cred că au fost scrise la comandă și - poate - puțin cam pe fugă.
Una peste alta, aceeași veche problemă: în opinia mea, dă iar cu virgulă - 3,5 stele. Evident că nu există opțiunea asta, dar nu e nici de 3. Prin urmare, 4 stele, cu minus. Cam cum era chestia aia la școală, pe vremea mea (noastră :)). Imediat după nota 10 nu era 9, ci -10.
Concluzia ar fi că volumul ăsta face toți banii. La promoție. :)
Profile Image for Darinda.
8,062 reviews144 followers
July 8, 2021
An entertaining collection of fantasy stories.

The stories:
1 The Bastard Stepchild - George R.R. Martin
2 Death by Dahlia - Charlaine Harris
3 The Bleeding Shadow - Joe R. Lansdale
4 Hungry Heart - Simon R. Green
5 Styx and Stones - Steven Saylor
6 Pain and Suffering - S.M. Stirling
7 It's Still the Same Old Story - Carrie Vaughn
8 The Lady is a Screamer - Conn Iggulden
9 Hellbender - Laurie R. King
10 Shadow Thieves - Glen Cook
11 No Mystery, No Miracle - Melinda M. Snodgrass
12 The Difference Between a Puzzle and a Mystery - M.L.N. Hanover
13 The Curious Affair of the Deodand - Lisa Tuttle
14 Lord John and the Plague of Zombies - Diana Gabaldon
15 Beware the Snake - John Maddox Roberts
16 In Red, with Pearls - Patricia Briggs
17 The Adakian Eagle - Bradley Denton
510 reviews
February 14, 2020
Like most collections, this one has a mix of good stories and less interesting stories.
Profile Image for Toby.
1,585 reviews58 followers
March 19, 2016
It's hard for me to really know how to rate a book of short stories. First off, I don't read a whole lot of short story compilations, and second, this book was read over the course of... probably 2 years? although I hate to admit that. (I'm not much of a short story person, and although I enjoyed the majority of the stories in this collection, it's definitely easier to set aside a compilation of short stories without feeling like you're really interrupting anything, as compared to an actual full-length novel.)

I guess I'll run through the list of short stories/authors and rate them as I go:

1. Death by Dahlia - Charlaine Harris: 3/5 stars. Interesting enough - I liked Dahlia's character but honestly I'm a little bored now with the Sookie Stackhouse world. :(

2. The Bleeding Shadow - Joe R. Lansdale: 4/5. Again, interesting, and I liked some elements of this story a lot. The inclusion of music, as well as having a black detective involved during a time period where that wouldn't have been very common, were definitely selling points.

3. Hungry Heart - Simon R. Green: 5/5 stars. Any story that starts with a line like this wins:
The city of London has a hidden heart; a dark and secret place where gods and monsters go fist-fighting through alleyways, where wonders and marvels are two a penny, where everything and everyone is up for sale, and all your dreams can come true.

4. Styx and Stones - Steven Saylor: 4/5 stars. Loved the setting of this story - Babylon somewhere between 92 and 90 B.C. Plus, humor!

5. Pain and Suffering - S.M. Stirling: I don't really remember this story, but I'm pretty sure I enjoyed it...? If I'd hated it, I would've remembered that I think. It was rather unremarkable, but I probably enjoyed it because I enjoy Stirling's writing.

6. It's Still the Same Old Story - Carrie Vaughn: 3/5. Again, don't remember a lot but I do remember the ending, which was sweet.

7. The Lady is a Screamer - Conn Iggulden: 3/5. I never really understood who "the Lady" was that helped our protagonist; it was clear that he received supernatural help, but the hows and whys were underexplained (IMO).

8. Hellbender - Laurie R. King: 4/5 for creativity, 3/5 for actual enjoyment/clarity of the plot.

9. Shadow Thieves - Glen Cook: 4/5 stars for creativity AND enjoyment! Although there was still a little clarity lacking (or my memory is poor, either way...).

10. No Mystery, No Miracle - Melinda M. Snodgrass: 5/5. Humor, historical cross-overs, religious tie-ins that are interesting/funny/perturbing... win. :)

11. The Difference between a Puzzle and a Mystery - M.L.N. Hanover: 4/5, similar to the previous story but not quite as enjoyable for me.

12. The Curious Affair of the Deodand - Lisa Tuttle: 5/5. Yay for proper 19th c. gentlewomen working for a Sherlock Holmes-type detective!

13. Lord John and the Plague of Zombies - Diana Gabaldon: 4/5. Interesting, but felt like I was lacking background because I haven't read anything else of Gabaldon's (unless you could 65% or so of the first Outlander book...).

14. Beware the Snake - John Maddox Roberts: 3/5. I felt like I was missing something in the plot arc, but enjoyed the plot and the setting (ancient Rome).

15. In Red, with Pearls - Patricia Briggs: 5/5. Patricia Briggs wins all the things. I haven't read anything by her that I've disliked yet. :)

16. The Adakian Eagle - Bradley Denton: 5/5. Goosebumps at the ending!!


So overall, I do recommend this, if you enjoy short story collections. There wasn't a single total dud in this collection; I did enjoy every story in some way, even if there were some stories that made me feel like I missed the crux of the mystery/problem being solved. Definitely a cool collection of interesting worlds and characters, though!
Profile Image for Krazykiwi.
213 reviews63 followers
February 11, 2016

George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, neither of which are names I instantly associate with urban fantasy, edit this collection of short stories. Martin makes the claim in the introduction that Urban Fantasy is the bastard child of two genres: Noir and Horror. I can see his point, to a degree, and with that in mind this is an anthology of urban fantasy mystery stories, ranging from a Holmes-esque victorian mystery, through some a lovecraftian horror that read like it was by Walter Mosley.

  Overall a successful mix (and just what I needed to reboot me out of my reading slump - the tip to try some shorts was a good idea, and I think I'll be hitting the library for a few more of these anthologies before I try any novels again for a bit.)


Mathematically, it averages out to a solid 3, but I think the really good stories lift the entire collection more than the ones I didn't like dragged it down. So it gets an extra half star for just flat out making me happy (and more in the mood to read again).

Full review @ Booklikes

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