Book – Exit Wounds

Thanks to our friends at Titan Books, Steve Taylor-Bryant has got his hands on a crime anthology edited by Marie O’Regan and Paul Kane, featuring stories from some of the biggest names in thriller writing...

A brand-new anthology of crime stories written by masters of the genre. Featuring both original in-universe stories and rarely seen reprints, this collection of nineteen masterful short stories brings together some of the genre’s greatest living authors. Tony Hill and Carol Jordan take on a delightfully twisted killer in Val McDermid’s ‘Happy Holidays’. In Fiona Cummin’s ‘Dead Weight’, an overbearing mother resorts to desperate measures to keep control of her teenage daughter. And in Dean Koontz’s ‘Kittens’, a young girl learns the truth about how her pets have been dying and devises a horrible revenge. Tense, twisted and disturbing, Exit Wounds is a visceral and thrilling collection showcasing the very best modern crime fiction has to offer.

I always find short story collections hit and miss so I don’t write a huge number of notes in case I can’t find something to write about. Instead I score each story out of 10 and hope that one or two tales stand out. That only becomes a problematic system when you review something as utterly glorious as Exit Wounds which is full of top-notch tales. From my rudimentary scoring the 19 stories garnered five set of top marks, four scores of 9, and four of 8 points. The rest, bar one story which had no affect on me at all, scored very solid 7’s which is a remarkable return for such differing stories. A lot of the authors I recognised, like you will, and was already excited to read. The book opens with Jeffery Deaver for goodness sake and, contained within the contents, you’ll read stories by Val McDermid, Lee Child and Dean Koontz, but you will also discover authors you haven’t read yet and end up trashing your credit card ordering books by these writers as you need more than just a few pages from each of them.

Every story took a different look at the ‘exit’ mentioned in the title and you have everything from stories based in real history to the downright horrific and everything between. Each writer brings something new and unexpected to the crime story, and there are twists and thrills aplenty contained within each gripping page turn. As mentioned before, Jeffery Deaver opens the book, and how. It is possibly one of the strongest openings to an anthology I have ever read, but there are other stories in the collection that scored higher than the esteemed Mr Deaver did, which shows you how remarkable this book is. I thoroughly enjoyed every story except one (which my wife read and loved, so apparently there is something wrong with me) and every author deserves any praise that comes their way. However I did have a few highlights, a couple of stories that exceeded my expectations and gripped me in a way I don’t usually experience. So whilst every writer deserves some kind of award, at the very least they deserve your time to read Exit Wounds, I must give a shout out to John Connolly’s ‘On the Anatomization of an Unknown Man (1637) by Frans Mier’ which is unlike any story I had read to date and kept me guessing, glued to the narrative, until the very last words. Also, congratulations to Dean Koontz for ‘Kittens,’ you sick and twisted man, and Paul Finch’s ‘The New Lad’ which had me terrified for most of it and applauding at the end; yes, I applauded a story in a book, I am that guy. ‘Dancing Towards the Blade’ by Mark Billingham, ‘Lebensraum’ by Christopher Fowler, and ‘Happy Holidays’ by Val McDermid are also worthy of the price of the book in their own right.

What O’Regan and Kane have managed to put together is a stunning collection of high quality and thrilling stories. There is gripping horror on every page, twists galore, and sheer storytelling class oozing from every word. Exit Wounds is a must read, a must own, and is possibly the best collection of crime related short stories put together.

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Image & Synopsis - Titan Books

Exit Wounds is published on 21st May. Pre-order it now:

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