Powers of Detection, by Dana Stabenow, ed.

>> Thursday, November 29, 2007

TITLE: Powers of Detection
AUTHORS: Donna Andrews / Simon R. Green / John Straley / Anne Bishop / Charlaine Harris / Anne Perry / Sharon Shinn / Michael Armstrong / Laura Anne Gilman / Mike Doogan / Jay Caselberg / Dana Stabenow. The latter is also the editor of the anthology.

PAGES: 304

TYPE: Fantasy Mystery
SERIES: A few of the stories are part of ongoing series. That I know of: those by Anne Bishop, Charlaine Harris and Laura Anne Gilman, but there could be more.

REASON FOR READING: I liked the idea of the premise (mysteries in fantasy settings) and I was interested in reading the stories by Sharon Shinn and Anne Perry, two favourite authors of mine.

This one-of-a-kind collection features stories from some of the biggest names in mystery and fantasy-blending the genres into a unique hybrid where PIs may wear wizard's robes and criminals may really be monsters.

Sit in on a modern-day witch's trial, visit the halls of a magical boarding school with murder on the curriculum, spend some time with Sookie Stackhouse, visit London's hidden world of the Nightside, and become spellbound with eight more tales of magical mystery.
  1. Cold Spell, by Donna Andrews: This was a cute story about a wizard apprentice helping her boss investigate a seemingly impossible murder. Neither the world nor the characters were too developed, but it was nice and yes, cute.

  2. The Nightside, Needless to Say, by Simon R. Green: I disliked it intensely. The protagonist wakes up and realizes he's dead, and has to investigate his own murder. The whole thing felt pointless and silly to me, and why use this Nightside setting if it's not going to play any part whatsoever in the story? Plus, the author's attempts at humour fell completely flat to me.

  3. Lovely, by John Straley: Quite ingenious, this one. It's narrated from the point of view of a raven, and the voice is really unique and believable. The story itself is nothing special, but it was an interesting read, anyway.

  4. The Price, by Anne Bishop: This story's part of the Black Jewels series, and it's very clear here that there's a lot of backstory to everything we see. However, Bishop succeeded in making me intrigued by it all rather than irritated by what I was missing.

  5. Fairy Dust, by Charlaine Harris: Another one that's part of an ongoing series, Sookie Stackhouse this time. Even though I haven't continued on, I have read the first book, so I knew Sookie and her powers already. Here she's asked by two faeries to help interrogate the people they suspect of murdering their sister. It's an interesting mystery, and Sookie was very smart figuring it out.

  6. The Judgment, by Anne Perry: Confession time: I think I didn't quite understand the ending. The story is about a trial for witchcraft of a woman accused of using it to murder someone. There's a twist there at the end, but I'm not sure what exactly the implications were. Man, I feel like an idiot!

  7. The Sorcerer's Assassin, by Sharon Shinn: A story about a magic school where professors start getting murdered. It's narrated by the grumpy headmistress, who investigates, and her dry, sharp humour really made the story for me. The office politics in this surreal environment were fun to read, too.

  8. The Boy Who Chased Seagulls, by Michael Armstrong: Boring. There's not much of a mystery here, just an old man telling a strange story that didn't make much sense to me.

  9. Palimpsest, by Laura Anne Gilman: I didn't even finish this one. Will she or will she not succeed in stealing whatever it was she wanted to steal? I never got why I was supposed to care. I actually meant to read Staying Dead, which is the first story in this series, but I don't think I will now.

  10. The Death of Clickclickwhistle, by Mike Doogan: I kind of liked it. This one's sci-fi (the only one in the anthology), and the spaceship setting was cool. The final twist in what happened was well done, too. But... the humour just didn't work for me. It reminded me a bit of that in the Simon R. Green story in that it felt really forced and just fell flat. Serial killer names as swear words? Oh, come on! Though it did elicit a smile when one of the characters cursed "George W Bush!"

  11. Cairene Dawn, by Jay Caselberg: Another blah one. The detective needs to find a woman's dead husband so that she and her family can bring him back to life. I'm all for atmospheric tales, but Caselberg didn't succeed in creating a compelling one for me, here, and the story itself wasn't too interesting.

  12. Justice Is a Two-Edged Sword, by Dana Stabenow: I think this was my favourite of the whole anthology. It was the best at bringing to life a whole world and mythology without bogging the reader down in the details and at the same time telling a full story. I'd be very willing to continue reading stories in this universe, if Stabenow were to write them.
MY GRADE: A C+. Just not enough good stories here to raise it much above average.


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