From Kirkus Reviews:
Collins's new series of hard-boiled anthologies begins snappily with this collection of 17 stories about professional killers. All but one are new, the exception--and the centerpiece of the collection--being nominal coeditor Spillane's 1953 novella ``Everybody's Watching Me.'' This Hammerless tale of a messenger caught between rival gangs and rival cops when he's asked to deliver a death threat from one gang to another is interesting less for Collins's inflated claims about its value than for its uneasy, very characteristic amalgam of sadistic violence and sentimentality. Looking at some of the new stories, you can see how little this basic recipe has changed in 40 years. Lawrence Block, in ``Keller on Horseback,'' lets his hit man get just a little too involved with his latest target; Wayne D. Dundee's ``Hitback'' and Collins's ``Guest Service'' show tough guys going the extra mile for dames in distress; and a bluesy, woozy, elegiac strain of perverted male bonding runs (in order of increasing complexity) through Teri White's ``Runner and the Deathbringer,'' Barry N. Malzberg's ``Improvident Excess,'' Lynn F. Myers Jr.'s ``The Matchstick and the Rubber Band,'' Stephen Mertz's ``The King of Horror,'' and Henry Slesar's ``The Operation.'' Ed Gorman's ``Surrogate'' fizzles into an anecdote no bigger than Edward Wellen's telegraphic three-pager ``A Nice Save,'' and Andrew Greeley (``The Bishop and the Hit Man''), John Lutz (``With Anchovies''), Paul Bishop (``The Man Who Shot Trinity Valance''), and Warren Murphy (``Without a Trace'') deliver sturdy but hardly original performances. Top honors here go to the two stories- -Carolyn Wheat's ``Undercover'' and newcomer Daniel Helpingstine's ``Angel Face''--that mingle tough and tender most grotesquely. A solid collection guaranteed to get your adrenalin flowing, though your brain may remain in neutral. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
From Publishers Weekly:
Gathered loosely in a guns-for-hire theme, the 17 stories here are generally good, mostly new and include a few surprises. John Lutz is funnier than usual, telling of a sad sack investigator who thinks he's being paid $50 to push a pizza in a guy's face for a laugh. He's wrong about the job, the pay and the reaction of an organized crime lord hit with anchovies and mozzarella. Joe Hannibal, Wayne Dundee's underrated series shamus, intercedes when a long-legged beauty is pursued by goons in a cab and then discovers that she is suspiciously competent at dealing with the thugs. Lawrence Block's story draws laughs with a hit man who arrives in town, fixated on a bad western paperback and strangely unwilling to kill his target. Closing the collection is a short, seldom-seen, unrepentant Spillane novella, Everybody's Watching Me, featuring a good dame in a tight spot, the kid she befriends and the warring hoods the unlucky twosome find themselves caught between. Other contributors include Andrew Greeley, Carolyn Wheat and Ed Gorman.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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