massively magnificent archive…
THRILLER 2: STORIES YOU JUST CAN’T PUT DOWN Editor Clive Cussler
Edited by Clive
Cussler, who supplies an introduction and a preface to each of the twenty-three
stories in this collection, Thriller 2 is the sequel to a previous
volume of short stories by members of International Thriller Writers, Inc.
When U.S. intelligence agencies learn about “The Weapon,” they also learn they
have only four days to identify exactly what it is, where it will be deployed,
and by whom. Will they be able to do so in time to stop it?
Keeping the young boy and his father under surveillance, what exactly is
Mitchell’s motive, and what kind of “Remaking” does he hope to accomplish?
In “Iced,” murder comes easy to Tom, a formerly respectable banker and family
man, as long as he has Chrissie and the drugs and the prospect of living large
in Costa Rica.
Because of Deanna’s cowardice, her friend Jessie is assaulted, and thus
severely traumatized, by a gang of punks. Determined to see “Justice Served,”
Deanna sets out to avenge Jessie—with nightmarish unintended consequences.
Melanie, a temporary employee at the Palace of Westminster, has traveled “The
Circle,” the London subway system, since she was a little girl. Today’s trip
and arrival will be considerably different ones.
Wayne swears that he’s innocent and has a “Roomful of Witnesses” to prove it
after his coworker Leon pays a price for abusive behavior at The Haven, a
facility for elderly residents.
soon forget either the witnesses or the abused residents in this jewel by an
author best known for his books for children.
Phillip Margolin: From the time her mother brought her as a child to it, Monica Esteban dreamed of living like a princess in “The House on Pine Terrace.” Opportunity presents itself when she meets Dan Emery and they fall in love. But when do things ever go that smoothly in crime fiction?
His army service earned Nick post-traumatic stress disorder and Cooper’s friendship. Now the two live in Las Vegas and
Cooper needs Nick’s help, as he did after an incident in Iraq. For Nick, “The
Desert Here and the Desert Far Away” mix unpleasant memories from the past with
danger in the present in a story persuasively told in the second-person.
Ill-prepared for the weather conditions and the terrain but “On the Run,” the
fugitive has kidnapped Gus Winters and demanded that Winters lead him to a
specific location high up in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Whether one
or the other or both will die of hypothermia eventually becomes the question,
provided the fugitive doesn’t use his gun first.
The accountant’s hands are bound behind his back as he leads Briggs and Sean
through swampy ground to retrieve the ledger they want before they kill him.
It’s amusing up to that point, but once he asks, “Can You Help Me Out Here?” it
becomes even funnier. Carl Hiaasen fans—and I’m one of them—will likely love
When in “Crossed Double,” C.T.’s son Andy gets himself into trouble with loan
shark Kozee, Dad—with growing annoyance and as matters become more complex—has
to bail him out.
“When the man he’d killed a year ago walked into the bar, Joe Dogan was
surprised. So surprised that he fell off his stool.” So begins a wry story
about life and politics in the environs of southern New Jersey as they relate
to “The Lamented” Brad Acton, his friends, associates, and enemies.
Private detective Lucas Parker has been hired by his former brother-in-law to
provide security for a formal gathering at the D’Amato Winery in a powerful tale
of personal angst, a dysfunctional family’s secrets, a lust for revenge, and
Author Jim Masterson is no longer merely a writer; he’s become a brand whose
name on a book cover means sales in the tens of millions—even if the book was
“co-written” by someone whose name appears in smaller type. When his editor
shows up and says that if he doesn’t
finish his latest manuscript in forty-four minutes, Jim’s wife Emily will be
killed, Jim isn’t sure if the situation requires a “Suspension of Disbelief.”
I have to add
here that I find it ironically amusing that Thriller 2 was edited by Clive
Cussler, and that its predecessor—which I haven’t read—was edited by James
Patterson, both of whom are “brands” whose names appear in large type on the
covers of a multitude of novels “co-authored” by lesser-known writers who, I
suspect but cannot prove, did most (possibly all) of the actual work.
Tom Bailey runs a charter boat and isn’t particular about most of his
clientele. But the man who calls himself Diego proves to be a different story
entirely, “A Calculated Risk” whose motives are suspect and upon whom Bailey’s
Professors in America, Madrid, and Mexico are being murdered in a ritualistic
manner. Solar storms and eruptions threaten the Earth. Is one of them the Big
One that a dead scientist was investigating? What events might lead to “The
Former best-selling author Geoffrey Dane hasn’t been able to sell anything for
quite awhile, and is currently teaching a writing course at a local college to
make ends meet—barely. Lauren Grant asks him to be her “Ghost Writer” for a
book idea she has. But who—and what—is she, and is that all she really wants
“It’s time to kill my husband, Izaan Bekkar. The forty-eighth president of the
United States.” So opens Sylvia’s story—Sylvia, who knows what the public does
not, and who experiences it “Through a Veil Darkly.”
Montgomery: Li Jinping is officially the Cultural Attaché of the People’s
Republic of China. In his unofficial capacity he’s a spy. A very inept one, as
well as a horndog with two mistresses in the D.C. area and a predilection for
hookers. Hitman Jason Ryder has been hired to make it a permanent “Bedtime for
Mr. Li,” the more embarrassingly the better.
Simon Wood: Nick
is more than a little smitten with Melanie. Unfortunately for him, her brother
Jamie disapproves and warns him off as though he’s “Protecting the Innocent.”
When Nick digs into Melanie’s past, it seems obvious than Jamie has been unduly
Before leaving for his tour of duty in Iraq, Carter Benedict asked his brother
Nash to “Watch Out for My Girl.” Nash has complied—to the point of falling in
love with firefighter Morgan Hunter. The morning after he impetuously kissed
her, she’s gone missing. While trying to resolve her own feelings, Morgan
drives into murderous trouble she might not survive unless she gets some
Fallon, a skilled professional killer who likes his work, is a man in hiding,
posing as an English teacher at the Hampton Lake Middle School. He’s
ill-prepared for that position, but no longer just “Killing Time” until he can
leave the country when his pursuers, who want him dead after he botched a job,
track him to the school and imperil the student body and staff.
“Boldt’s Broken Angel” is the final and longest story in the book, a police
procedural that emphasizes forensics. Amateur jazz pianist and police detective
Lou Boldt, aided by partner John LaMoia and Daphne Matthews, investigates a missing persons case that
leads to a particularly deranged serial killer.
such collections contain some stories that are stronger and more engrossing
than others, Thriller 2 is an exception. I found every story
totally engaging. Moreover, none is like another. Plot, tone and style vary widely, providing
the reader with different takes on what constitutes a thriller. The only
caveats are raw language and some scenes which, while not flagrantly explicit,
might just be graphic enough to repel some readers. Those who find these
elements offensive are advised to stay away. Those who don’t will find this a
very entertaining read.
Barry Ergang © 2015, 2023