Ever Wanted to Read Your Favourite Character from One Book Together With a Different Top Author’s Character in the One Story?
Face Off brings two (or three with one story) big name authors together to write a short story using a character from one of their series that meets the other author’s popular series main character. Author duets if you will. Although the title is called Face Off, and as the words around the title on the cover suggest, this isn’t a one goes up against the other like Freddy vs Jason, Alien vs Predator or that 90’s show Celebrity Deathmatch. Usually the two characters just happen to be in the same place at the same time and often decide to team up since they have the same goal. This more like a TV show that has a crossover episode with another show on the same network where a character from one show just happens to appear on the scene and be around for 30 minutes.
The book does work, and you’ve got to hand it to Baldacci or whoever managed to convince so many big name authors to participate. Most various author short story collections will have two or three big names with the rest of the book containing authors you’ve probably never heard of or at least tried before, but Face Off contains authors you’ll have seen on countless spines of books on GCCC branch shelves. Although this collection of eleven short stories is a good book to try out new authors/characters, I have to say of the ones I’m a regular reader of, not many are really a good representation of what you’ll find on their own novels’ pages.
The arguably most famous of the character duos by Lee Child and Joseph Finder (Jack Reacher and Nick Heller), you really don’t get inside either of their heads much. The ending without giving it away doesn’t mesh with either character’s usual behaviour or morals. Good and Valuable Consideration also suffers from basically being set in a bar where all that both characters want to do is watch a baseball game and look in the mirror, only to be annoyed by a fat man who obviously isn’t there to watch the game. This was the story I thought would be the best and it turned out to be one of the weakest of the whole collection.
I would have to say my favourite was Linwood Barclay and Raymond Khoury’s Pit Stop. This is actually the only story in here that doesn’t really follow the criteria and if it was a hastily added one to make up the page numbers I’m glad it was put in here as it was the most action packed and enjoyable read. I’m not familiar with Khoury’s work and assume Agent Rilley is from a series of books but Barclay’s character Glen Garber is from a stand alone storyline novel called The Accident. Not that he plays a huge part in this one confined to pretty much the passenger seat of a pursuing vehicle, it’s his young daughter who faces off against the villain for most of the pages. Granted the events putting this story into motion weren’t really believable, I mean who upon seeing someone on fire decides to walk back to their car, put their daughter back in that car, put a cup of coffee in the drink holder, crank down the windows for her comfort, put the keys in the ignition and then go and grab the fire extinguisher to put the guy out. A less complicated scenario like they just drove into the parking lot, or were exiting the drive thru with their lunch and saw the guy on fire and Garber jumps out while the engine is still running would have been more plausible. Still I loved this story.
The most like the novels they’re from short story characters appearance, would be the first one written by Michael Connelly and Dennis Lehane. With Red Eye, Harry Bosch and Patrick Kenzie fans won’t be disappointed other than the story is over pretty quickly.
The most interesting experiment uses a character from a young children’s series (Goosebumps) by R L Stine, using Slappy the Ventriloquist Dummy to go up against a double author creation (Preston & Child)’s Aloysius Pendergast. Was three authors a bit of a crowd with the final result of Gaslighted? I’d have to say yes. Does a junior fiction character work against an adult novel one. I’d have to say not on this occasion. Although if there’s another of these collections down the track I wouldn’t mind seeing it tried again with different characters/authors, although perhaps a comedy would work better than a thriller.
The other stories, their two authors and characters in (brackets) are –
In the Nick of Time by Ian Rankin and Peter James (John Rebus and Roy Grace)
The Laughing Buddha by M J Rose and Lisa Gardner (Michael Samuels and D. D. Warren)
Surfing the Panther by Steve Martini and Linda Fairstein (Paul Madriani and Alexandra Cooper)
Rhymes With Prey by Jeffery Deaver and John Sandford (Lincoln Rhyme and Lucas Davenport)
Infernal Night by Heather Graham and F Paul Wilson (Michael Quinn and Repairman Jack)
Silent Hunt by John Lescroat and T Jefferson Parker (Wyatt Hunt and Joe Trona)
The Devil’s Bones by Steve Berry and James Rollins (Cotton Malone and Gray Pierce)