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Mystery Writers of America Presents Ice Cold: Tales of Intrigue from the Cold War Preloaded Digital Audio Player

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Amazon.com: 13 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
A must-have volume for your bookshelf...The stories are not long, but run deep and memorable 9 April 2014
By Bookreporter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The choice of editors for MYSTERY WRITERS OF AMERICA PRESENTS ICE COLD is nothing less than a stroke of genius. Jeffery Deaver and Raymond Benson are the only two American authors thus far who have been selected by Ian Fleming’s estate to pen original James Bond novels. Bond, of course, is an icon of the intrigue of the Cold War between East and West that began after World War II and ended (though, in light of recent events, it might be more correct to say “paused”) with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The Cold War is a common thread that runs through all 20 original stories that comprise ICE COLD, yet each of them is diverse and distinct from its fellows, ranging in topic from suspected spies to the traitors within, from domestic and foreign intrigue to the enemy without, to what Walt Kelly so brilliantly characterized in the phrase “we have met the enemy, and he is us.” It is a must-have volume for your bookshelf.

ICE COLD begins with a dialogue between Deaver and Benson that serves as an introduction to the collection. If you are in the habit of skipping such fare, please do not ignore this one; it is relatively short in length, deep in substance and quite entertaining. The collected stories themselves are bookended by contributions from Deaver and Benson.

Deaver’s offering, “Comrade 35,” uses the assassination of John F. Kennedy as story fodder for fresh purpose; if you thought that JFK’s death had been explored and exploited from every possible angle over the five decades since its occurrence, think again. Deaver demonstrates here that not only can he see around corners from fresh angles, he is also capable of building new corners out of very substantial material.

Benson’s “Ghosts” closes ICE COLD, and what a closing it is. It’s not a long story, but it’s a chilling one, set in 1956 during the Soviet invasion of Hungary. An American CIA agent in Vienna is charged with transporting a high-level Hungarian refugee and his family to safety. It is all but certain that nothing can go wrong, but it does, and inexplicably so. Benson manages with great subtlety to include suspense, terror, horror and mystery into one story of 16 or so pages without a wasted word.

A treasure trove of talent lies between those two stories. John Lescroart takes his considerable game and raises it a notch or two in “The Last Confession.” It’s not an espionage tale, but if you went to Catholic high school in the early 1960s, you will feel size 14 boots treading on your grave as you read this story of the well-intended but nonetheless mean-spirited actions of a priest that result in a chain reaction of death and revenge. J. A. Jance is included as well, in a story titled “His Mother’s Son,” which serves as a coda of sorts to her fine novel, JUDGMENT CALL. Set in 1978, it is a tragic tale of a mother’s disappointment and a son’s apparent betrayal of his country, both of which result in potential danger to a young innocent who knows too much and unintentionally created the grim cascade of events that follow.

My favorite story? Nice of me to ask. “Side Effects” by T. Jefferson Parker is the rose whose stem was just a bit longer than the others in this collection. Parker’s name does not immediately come to mind when one thinks of espionage or political thrillers, and “Side Effects” does not necessarily fall into either of those classifications, but it perfectly captures the mindset of the early to mid-1960s, when mutually assured destruction was indeed all but assured and everyone knew what the term “fallout shelter” meant. However, Parker’s villain of the piece is not who you would expect; sometimes the most dangerous folks are right next door, the ones you shouldn’t trust at all. There are layers upon layers of paranoia here, as well as a hero or two, as a teenage boy displays the right stuff when it’s time to stand up and be counted.

I have gone on for far too long here. There are many other worthy stories, including “Police Report” by the absent-for-too-long Joseph Finder, Gayle Lynds collaborating with John C. Sheldon on “A Card for Mother” (Gayle, you have been MIA for too long as well), and riveting tales from Katherine Neville, Sara Paretsky, Katia Lief and Bev Vincent, among others. The stories are not long, but run deep and are memorable, particularly for those of us who remember the dawn of that cold conflict.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
In From the Cold 18 April 2014
By P. A. Duncan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you miss espionage fiction about the Cold War like me, you'll love this collection. The stories evoke good memories and bad and remind us just how terrifying the Cold War was--on both sides.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Themed Stories 2 Nov 2014
By Ted Feit - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The Mystery Writers of America regularly ask some of the best-known authors in the thriller/mystery genre to contribute to a collection of short stories on a single theme, with the proceeds funding the organization. This volume, edited by Jeffery Deaver and Raymond Benson, is based on the Cold War, so it is no surprise that several take place in the divided city of Berlin and its famous Wall as a center piece. For example, Alan Cook wrote a story on how a father smuggled a young daughter from East Berlin through Checkpoint Charlie. .And another, by Raymond Benson, is set in the Austrian capital of Vienna, separated into Soviet and Allied zones.

Mr. Deaver presents the lead-off tale about a Soviet spy sent to the United States about the time of the Kennedy assassination to protect an unidentified "Comrade 35." Sara Paretsky presents a very personal story which reflects a childhood memory involving her father. Laura Lippman created a clever story about a bored Baltimore housewife who becomes a "spy" with the National Security Agency at Ft. Meade.

T. Jefferson Parker writes about a mother whose dislike of her daughter-in-law unexpectedly results in her son being arrested as a Soviet spy. Gayle Lynds and John C. Sheldon, on the other hand, turned their attention to another topic: the spies who worked to steal industrial or military secrets, clandestinely passing them off to their controllers. John Lescoart is left to prepare a story involving the Cuban Missile Crisis. And Joseph Finder writes about revenge on a Nazi responsible for war crimes. All in all there are 20 new stories, each a gem in its own right.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Good Examples 12 Aug 2014
By Gene P - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An excellent collection of short stories relating to the cold war era, providing great examples of the writing styles of 20 modern writers. Some stories contain so much historic fact, it's hard not to believe the fictional element. Jeffery Deaver and Raymond Benson, the only two American authors selected to write James Bond novels, compiled the stories. I enjoy their works because they always include a huge dose of historic, scientific, or geographic reality in every tale they compose. In addition to the fun ride through fiction, the reader always acquires a bit of knowledge or wisdom along the way. This isn't true of all the writers in this book, but they are all enjoyable, even if some can write a page without saying much while others put so much into each sentence, you have to read it twice to gather it all. I particularly enjoyed Katherine Neville's story, Cuba Libre, that brought the life, death, and writing style of Earnest Hemingway into perspective, as it played out early in the cold war period.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Old Codger's opinion 8 Jun 2014
By Donald McMiken - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Loved this collection of old warrior's tales. It resonates with me after living through the cold war and finishing up in an East German jail!
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