Mystery collection is hot one

From time to time, Mystery Writers of America releases a short story collection filled with tales organized around a theme. Previous collections include “Vengeance,” “The Prosecution Rests: News Stories About Courtroom, Criminals, and the Law,” and “Death Do Us Part: New Stories About Love, Lust, and Murder.”

The newest collection from the organization, which is devoted to promoting crime fiction and those who create it, is entitled “Ice Cold: Tales of Intrigue from the Cold War” (Grand Central Publishing, 384 pages, $25). The book is edited by Jeffrey Deaver and Raymond Benson, two thriller writers who are also the only Americans to write official James Bond novels.

I enjoy collections like this for two reasons. They provide an opportunity to get a taste of an author’s work before diving into a novel or series. On the flip side of that coin, they often offer something unique or unexpected from a writer I already admire.

John Lescroart is a popular writer I’ve never read before. “The Last Confession,” his entry in “Ice Cold,” was interesting to me because it steered clear of a standard espionage plot. The story is one of brotherly loyalty and a needless tragedy. Cold War fears are central to the story, but Lescroart found a creative use for them, and though the story felt somewhat hastily constructed, I find that I am now more inclined to give one of his novels a look.

I am a fan of Deaver’s character Lincoln Rhyme, a brilliant, damaged forensic consultant. Because it is set in 1963 and centered on the assassination of President Kennedy, Deaver’s “Comrade 35” is something of a departure from the Rhyme novels with their focus on the science of modern police work. “Comrade 35” takes place largely on the streets of Dallas, and while Deaver’s twist ending can be predicted, it’s still a satisfying game of cat and mouse.

If you find Cold War intrigue intriguing, “Ice Cold” is a hot pick.

Rob Cline is a writer and published author, marketing director for University of Iowa’s Hancher and director of literary events for New Bo Books, a division of Prairie Lights.

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