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Crime Spells, edited by Martin H. Greenberg Book Review | SFReader.com
Crime Spells, edited by Martin H. Greenberg Genre: Fantasy Anthology Publisher: DAW Published: 2009 Review Posted: 6/22/2013 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated
Crime Spells, edited by Martin H. Greenberg
Book Review by Joshua Palmatier
Have you read this book?
Web Ginn House by Phaedra Weldon: A good story with an
interesting voice for the main character, who uses her ability to travel
outside her body to earn a living. This new case presents her with some
. . . unexpected problems. I liked the setup for the character and her
career, but the case itself felt a little unwieldy. There were too many
things going on and in the end they didn't get connected as well as I
would have liked.
The Hex Is In by Mike Resnick: Here, a bookie has to investigate
who might have dropped a piano on a football player to screw up the
spread. We meet a lot of interesting characters in here, all with a
tongue-in-cheek mobster feel to it all. A fun story.
If Vanity Doesn?t Kill Me by Michael A. Stackpole: This time, the
main character is actually an ex-detective charged with bribery a while
back. He's asked to look into a case because of his inherent talent,
and the possible connection to his mother. The way that talents work in
this world is interesting and relevant to the story and character. I
missed the clue to who the killer was though.
Witness to the Fall by Jay Lake: An interesting and very
atmospheric story about a "witch" who uses the wind for prophecy. She's
called to help unravel what happened about a death in the local village.
I liked the style of this story, very literary (and I don't usually
like literary style), but the atmosphere was great. A little more
clarity would have been nice about some of the nuances of the crime and
the characters involved, but definitely a good story.
The Best Defense by Kristine Kathryn Rusch: Here, the main
character is a lawyer who is forced to take on a client that, for all
practical purposes, obviously committed the crime. He manages to use his
rather non-magical powers to defend his client . . . but it turns out
that that's only the beginning. I can't say much more without spoiling
the story, but this one has a rather nice twist at the end.
Call of the Second Wolf by Steven Mohan, Jr.: This story has a
main character who's Russian . . . and that comes across in the style of
the writing. The author gives the character's inner voice the
appropriate accent, which took some getting used to while reading.
However, once you get into the flow, the subsequent Russian mafia story
is so far my favorite story in the anthology. I loved the twist and
plot line of the story. Well thought out, and a lot happens in the course
of such a short piece.
The Old Girlfriend of Doom by Dean Wesley Smith: A
tongue-in-cheek story with a main character that could be a superhero
with superpowers . . . or not. It's never exactly clear. But whatever
he's got, he's trying to save an old girlfriend who's in trouble with
some Silicon Suckers who want her breasts. Like I said, tongue-in-cheek.
Second Sight by Ilsa J. Bick: This story had quite a bit going on
in it. The main character is a detective who has some special abilities
that he hasn't embraced yet. The plot is complicated and there a lot to
sort out. So while the magical content of the story--the magic coming
from a pre-Hindu culture that I haven't seen used in anything else--was
interesting and intriguing, I found that I had a hard time following
what was going on and keeping track of the multiple characters. I felt
this story would have been much better as a much longer piece, either a
novella or a novel. I wanted more time spent on nearly all of its
aspects, so that I could absorb the material.
The True Secret of Magic, Only $1.98, Write Box 47, Portland, ORE
by Joe Edwards: I really liked this short story. It was calm and quiet
and only had two characters of importance (although the overall idea
behind the story had huge stakes for everyone, not just these two). The
main character was a woman with her own special abilities, and she was
interesting and drew me in. The other character was a cop, and he didn't
quite have the same dimension as the woman. But a good story.
The Sweet Smell of Cherries by Devon Monk: A very well-written
story about a young girl who can "Hound" out magic, meaning she can
sense magic and the signature of who used it. She uses this ability to
find things--people, lost dogs, etc. Here, she thinks she's being hired
to Hound out a lost dog, but instead they want her to find a lost girl.
The prose is smooth and the story solid.
Eye Opening by Jason Schmetzer: An interesting story about a
thief with a kind of second sight which allows him to "see" through
wood, glass, metal, etc. Very helpful in his profession, since he can
see the tumblers on a safe lock, for example. He ends up getting mixed
up in something much bigger, however, and learns that his Sight is more
than it seems. A fun little story.
Faith's Curse by Randall Bills: This story plays on the idea that
magic comes from the belief, that a magician is more powerful if more
people believe he's actually a magician. The main character has garnered
a ton of power, but in the process has perhaps abused those that were
faithful to him. The plot surrounds his search for another magician and
begins with a body that could only have been murdered using powerful
magic. I found the story hard to get into, mostly because I didn't like
the main character. He wasn't a likeable character, which was kind of
the point by the end, but I still found it difficult to care for him.
The Wish of a Wish by Robert T. Jeschonek: The main character
here is attempting to save a genie from her current rather cruel master,
but his attempts are foiled by the laws that bind a genie and by the
mindset a genie would have based on their upbringing--the idea that they
were created solely to serve their master. It had an interesting premise
and a good ending, along with a slight tongue-in-cheek approach that
helped mitigate some of the cruelty and darker elements of the story.
RPG Reunion by Peter Orullian: This was an interesting story
simply because of the RPG elements and the fact that how this particular
RPG game ended 20 years before is probably how every RPG group ends--a
fight over something stupid that happened during an adventure. Here, the
"victim" in that fight learns some true magic and comes back for
revenge. Some good jabs at the D&D gaming world, while it's still
obvious that there's a certain sense of nostalgia and love of the whole
RPG experience as well.
Treasure by Leslie Claire Walker: A story dealing with fairy
magic and the consequences of making a deal with the fairy, even when
the person who breaks that pact isn't yourself, although you suffer the
consequences. I liked the writing of this piece in particular, as well
as the main character. Definitely one of my favorites in this anthology.
She's Not There by Steve Perry: In this story, we have a main
character who can make herself appear as anyone she wishes, although she
has to touch someone first before the glamor works. It also doesn't
disguise her voice. She uses this ability to steal minor things from
rich folk, but just enough to get by. The story involves what happens
when one of her small thefts goes wrong and what she?s driven to do in
order to survive . . . and what she's willing to risk. A good story to
finish off the anthology.
Overall, a good anthology. Some interesting stories in here, and
interesting takes on magical crimes. Definitely an anthology I'd
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