Seven bricks, five buckets and a pair of brilliant three-pointers.
The late, great Evan Hunter, to whom the volume is dedicated, would have deplored the mailed-in numbers but might have granted that two stories are so good they almost validate the enterprise. George Pelecanos’s “String Music” is a heartrending tale about the mean streets as killing fields and a good, smart black kid in a desperate struggle against a fate he recognizes as implacable. In “White Trash Noir,” Michael Malone presents Charmaine Luby Markell, who’s pumped lethal bullets into a husband from hell and must now stand trial for it. Unsophisticated, only half-educated, Charmaine is a young woman who doesn’t whimper or feel sorry for herself; instead, her natural gallantry gives her serious game. As for the rest, the stories by Lawrence Block, Parnell Hall, Laurie R. King and Mike Lupica are all well and good, while Jeffery Deaver, the doubly pseudonymous Sue DeNymme, Brendan DuBois, co-authors Joan H. and Robert B. Parker, R.D. Rosen, S.J. Rozan, Justin Scott and Stephen Solomita might just as well have not suited up.
Uneven work from contributors anthologist Penzler (Murder Is My Racquet, 2005, etc.) introduces as a Dream Team.