Friday, August 11, 2017

Thrillers 2

Thrillers 2 (2007) is a collection of nine stories, with author notes, by four authors, edited by Robert Morrish. It is a sequel in kind to a previous volume Thrillers (1993), edited by Richard Chizmar. 

It is usual practice for an anthologist to open a book with a very strong first story. This is not the case here. "Pen Umbra," a novella by Gemma Files, is an inchoate mess, often clumsily written to the point of readerly distraction. It contains a few interesting ideas, but they are squandered in this mostly uninteresting tale. One comes to the clean prose of Tim Waggoner with a sense of relief. Waggoner is represented with three stories, the first two of which are straightforward, beginning with almost trite situations that are quickly altered by very unusual and weird plot developments. Waggoner's third tale, "Darker than Winter," is far less interesting. R. Patrick Gates contributed three tales which attempt to mix humor in with horror.  The results are not very good, particularly the bizarre "The Tell-Tale Nose" in which a man's nose comes to life, and gains a voice which then ruins the man's life. This reads like the bad result of a writing-course exercise. Finally, there are two tales by Caitlin R. Kiernan, and they are the outstanding stories in this book.  "The Daughter of the Four Tentacles" is somewhat slow to come together, while "Houses Under the Sea" is an excellent modern Lovecraftian tale, of the cult-worship of an odd undersea creature. Overall a disappointing anthology, with only a few bright spots.

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