USA Today bestselling author of Nine
delivers chills, suspense, shockers, and sharp wit in eighteen works of short fiction sure to satisfy longtime fans and newcomers alike. This positively addictive anthology is full of surprises -- a patchwork of settings and characters not soon forgotten, and mysterious twists and revelations not quickly shaken! 18 includes
Agatha Award nominee for Best Short Story
Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Readers Award and Macavity Award winner
"The Man in the Civil Suit"
Agatha Award winner
Edgar Award nominee
...and also features her first Irene Kelly story, "A Fine Set of Teeth."
The acclaimed author of the Irene Kelly mystery series (Goodnight, Irene, etc.) and the Edgar award-winning novel Bones delivers this superb collection of short stories, hitherto available only in a limited trade edition from A.S.A.P. Publishing. These early works, which appeared in publications like Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, display an impressive range of styles, voices and settings. Burke offers ghost stories ("Ghost of a Chance"), romantic suspense ("The Muse"), a whodunit ("A Fine Set of Teeth"), a tale of revenge ("Miscalculation") and a humorous intrigue ("The Man in the Civil Suit"), and the voices she adopts are as disparate as an abused wife and an aristocratic gentleman (and, at one point, even a non-human narrator). It would be a challenge for readers to choose their favorite, as all the stories are carefully crafted gems: "Mea Culpa" follows a crippled boy as he deduces what his stepfather has in store for his mother; "Miscalculation," which is based on the wartime service of the Queen Mary ocean liner, effectively transmutes history into mystery; and "Unharmed" tells a surprising tale of domestic strife. Several of the stories won or were nominated for awards, and virtually all of them repay the reader handsomely. (Jan.) Copyright 1997-2005 Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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September 30, 2002
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Excerpt from Eighteen by Jan Burke
The shovel half-rang like a muted bell as it struck the metal. Leila Anderson sighed and stopped digging, wiping the back of her leather glove across her forehead. She was hot and tired, but determined to finish planting this last section of her garden.
She turned from the corner where she had been working and looked across the big backyard. It should have been our garden, our yard, our house, she thought to herself. Sam should be here with me.
But he wasn't. Samuel Barrington had left her for a girl of twenty-two, a girl who made mooning cow's eyes at the silly man. Before Cow Eyes -- Marietta Hinchley -- came into the picture, Leila had known exactly how things were going to be. She knew that after four years of being engaged, she and Sam would finally marry; knew that they would move out of the apartment they had shared and into a lovely house; knew that she would keep getting promotions at the investment firm she worked for; knew that Sam would continue to be able to pursue his doctorate in mathematics, because she, Leila, would support them, just as she always had. And most certainly, back in those golden days, Leila had known what was expected of her. Her ability to predict and her own predictability. That was Leila's life.
But Sam had surprised her. She hadn't ever been fond of surprises, and this one did nothing to endear them to her. "You're so reasonable, Leila," Sam had said that day. "I know you'll understand." Leila would always be his friend, Sam had told her, but in Marietta, he had found passion.
Passion! Didn't he know she, Leila, was capable of passion Of course she had always been controlled around him. She had eschewed the sentimental, been the "reasonable" woman he had come to rely on. As logical as his beloved mathematics. The habit of it was ingrained in her so deeply, that even as he was telling her of his unfaithfulness, she had reacted just as she had known Sam would want her to react, exactly in the way he had come to depend on her to react: reasoned, calm, controlled. But that was on the outside. Inside, she raged. Raged passionately.
So used to pleasing Sam, though, she was determined not to let him know how wounded her pride was. She reasoned that at that particular moment, the only psychological weapon she had to defend herself with was her dignity, and she used it like a knife.
She had met Marietta the next day. Sam, oblivious to the tension between the two women, had begun his "let's all be friends" campaign without delay. A beautiful, slim, athletic, young woman, Marietta had tried hard to upset Leila's equanimity. She made allusions to Leila's age, which was not more than eight years above her own; she hinted that Leila was out of shape, which was untrue. Leila was not the athlete that Marietta was, but she was no slouch. Sam had seemed a little displeased with Marietta's lack of grace. And Leila knew that while Sam had been relieved and grateful that she had not fallen apart, Marietta had been hoping for a tantrum, a scene. Marietta, Leila had seen in a moment, was a bitch. Leila had smiled, certain that Sam would more than do his penance.