We all have our favorite thrillers and mystery series characters, and after a while, we have a pretty good sense of what, say, Harry Hole (in Jo Nesbo’s series) is likely to do in particular circumstances, or where V. I. Warshawski (in Sara Paretsky’s series) is likely to find the cases she’s investigating. There’s a certain comfort in that predictability (and I’d argue that’s one of the reasons we like to read series in the first place), but sometimes you just wonder what would happen if these characters were taken out of their comfort zones, matched up with other characters from other series, and made to work together. If that idea strikes you as intriguing, then you’ll probably want to read the new collection of short stories, edited by Lee Child, entitled Matchup: The Battle of the Sexes Just Got Thrilling.
The idea of the collection is similar to that of FaceOff, which came out in 2014: pair up bestselling authors in the genre and get them to figure out how their characters might end up working together, on what kind of case, and how they would solve the crimes. The difference here is that the authors paired up are male and female (though their respective characters aren’t necessarily of different genders), with different styles and takes on the world of thrillers.
So, for instance, you have Kathy Reichs bringing her Temperance Brennan character, a forensic anthropologist, together with Lee Child’s Jack Reacher in a story called “Faking a Murderer.” How would they work together, with their very different styles and approaches? Or you bring together Lisa Scottoline’s Bennie Rosato, a tough lawyer, and Nelson DeMille’s John Corey, who dislikes lawyers, in a story called “Getaway.” Or Sandra Brown’s Lee Coburn (last seen touching down in Jackson Hole, Wyoming) meets up with C. J. Box’s Joe Pickett, and, after some initial problems, they work together to keep alive against some bad guys in “Honor & . . .”
You get the idea. You might not be familiar with all these authors and their characters, but that makes it even better. You get to see your favorites and meet some new characters, some new authors, in different settings and outside their normal comfort zones. Even if you’re not a big fan of short stories in general, summer’s a great time to read shorter things (with all the relaxing going on, you don’t have the attention span to give to a long, intricate novel anyway), and Matchup is just the ticket for thriller/mystery fans.