Book Review: Matchup (part 1)

“Matchup” is an exciting new collection of short stories that was published in June by the International Thriller Writers. It’s an amazing organization full of remarkable authors. In this anthology, best-selling authors paired up their well-known characters to work together. It’s a crossing and intermingling of worlds. An enticing concept, right? It also happens to be a thrilling execution.

This collection is freaking intense.

Sandra Brown and CJ Box put Lee Coburn and Joe Pickett together for “Honor &…”

Val McDermid and Peter James turn Tony Hill and Roy Grace into temporary coworkers in “Footloose.”

Kathy Reichs and Lee Child pair up Temperance Brennan and Jack Reacher in “Faking a Murderer.”

Diana Gabaldon and Steve Berry throw Jamie Fraser and Cotton Malone into a “Past Prologue.”

Gayle Lynds and David Morrell have Liz Sansborough embody Rambo in “Rambo on Their Minds.”

Karin Slaughter and Michael Koryta put Jeffery Tolliver and Joe Pritchard together in “Short Story.”

Charlaine Harris and Andrew Gross wrote about Harper Connelly and Ty Hauck in “Dig Here.”

Lisa Jackson and John Sandford have Regan Pescoli and Virgil Flowers in “Deserves to be Dead.”

Lara Adrian and Christopher Rice paired up Lucan Thorne and Lilliane in “Midnight Flame.”

Lisa Scottoline and Nelson DeMille put Bennie Rosato and John Corey in “Getaway.”

JA Jance and Eric Van Lustbader pair Ali Reynolds and Bravo Shaw in “Taking the Veil.”

Holy shit! That’s a lot of authors. It’s daunting to read an anthology like that, right? You know they’re all popular, but you probably haven’t read most of them. Or maybe you haven’t read any of them because—let’s face it—there are a FUCKING SHIT TON of books out there. You haven’t heard of them all. You certainly haven’t read them all. No one has.

But that’s exactly why these anthologies are so damned amazing. Because it’s also daunting to read an entire book by an author you don’t know. But short stories? Fan-fucking-tastic, my friends. It’s a short little burst of adventure. It’s also a brief introduction to characters you’ve never met, but might love and want to read more about them.

I got my copy at ThrillerFest XII last month in New York. I hadn’t bought “Faceoff” last year and I didn’t want to miss this one, too. It was the first book I purchased. I carried it in my bag all week, trying to get everyone who’d contributed to sign it. Unfortunately, four of the contributing authors couldn’t attend ThrillerFest. I’ll just have to check the attending authors list next year and if I see any of them, I’ll bring it back to NYC.


On to the Content!


Due to the length of this book, I’ll be splitting my review like I did for “No Middle Name.”

“Honor &…” starts out with game warden Joe Pickett up in the mountains while he checks elk hunting camps in preparation for hunting season. He hears gunfire and has to go investigate. There are a dead man and a half-built cabin where there should just be a forest.

Enter Lee Coburn—badass FBI agent. He doesn’t want some yokel out here messing up his mission. He tries and fails to get Joe to leave. They come under fire and have to spend the rest of the day holed up in the half-built cabin to protect them from the bullets.

Their personalities clash with each other, but both of them totally hooked me as a reader. I find myself wanting to read more about the calm, patient, rational game warden as well as the hard-ass, tough-guy FBI agent.

“Footloose” is a well-balanced, well-written story. There is murder, dismemberment, mystery, and intrigue. There’s also humor, but not so much as to be distasteful. I thought it had just enough puns—any more would have been trying too hard, any less would’ve been not trying hard enough. Some people want to talk smack about EMS humor, but for me, it shows that it’s realistic. Emergency workers see a lot of horrible stuff and they have to be able to be a bit detached. They have to be able to make jokes or they’d come unglued. So, I thought the puns were great.

This tale is set in England, so it’s great for anyone familiar with the layout. I, unfortunately, have never been there, so all of the location names were lost on me. Regardless of my ability to picture real places or not, I love it when authors write for their local audiences. A book is that much more exciting for the reader when you’ve been to the building or area where a passage is taking place.

A truck driver finds the footless body of a beautiful model. Many miles away, someone else finds rotting feet in a garbage dump. They don’t match each other. Now they have to figure out what the fuck is happening that people are turning up dead, missing their feet, and dead people are having their feet stolen from funeral homes.

“Faking a Murderer” was the story I was really looking forward to. Probably because I love-love-love both of these characters so much. Like, seriously—it’s a fucking dream team. Dr. Temperance Brennan and Jack Reacher, working together? Yes! Oh my god, yes! I was so tempted to jump ahead and read this one first, but I resisted. It was totally worth the wait.

Dr. Brennan gets accused of murder. She has no alibi. She was home alone when it happened. They have her prints on the bag used to kill the man. She’s able to get a bit of leniency and is allowed to return to her hotel room, but she’s not allowed to leave DC.

Reacher is wandering and hears a news story about her on the radio. He detours to DC, pretends to work for Tempe’s lawyer, and gets into her hotel room. They put their brilliant minds together and use their genius to figure out who is framing her as a murderer.

Amazing. Fucking awesome. Goddamned incredible. I loved it! And the ending? It had me bouncing in my seat.


And that’s it for this week, folks. I’ll be back next week with more from this—

Holy shit I’ll stab your fucking eyes out if you don’t read this book!

Jesus tits. Where did that come from?


Anyway… Due to time constraints—mostly that I don’t have enough time to read and write as much as I want to—I will be splitting this one into three installments. Am I stalling? A bit. A bit. But I write so much more than this website, as evidenced by my own novels. I’ve got so many pots on the stove, y’all.

Come back Wednesday to read about my horrible flight home from New York. Come back next Saturday for more tales from “Matchup.” And come back in a week and a half to—maybe—read a short story inspired by said wretched journey. If it’s long enough, I may submit it to an anthology that I’ve had my eye on, so it won’t be making it public. I guess we’ll see…