There are some perfectly good and perfectly stories in this collection, and I was ready to give it a lower rating until we returned to some familiar topics and characters toward the end.
So the bad first: too many, and there are many here, stories in this collection start with an interesting and engaging set of ideas and plots, and then out of nowhere as soon as the character reaches a kind of impasse, there’s a murder to get them out of it. And so it becomes too often a kind of variations on a theme. And there’s very little solving murders or mysteries here and while I am happy to engage with new characters and even awful characters (as in their morality and personality) I am less interested in the things that make them boring murderers.
The good: two Tess stories I haven’t read before, one based on a new profile article of her in which she, Whitney, and Crow all chime in about Tess. It’s good because of the lack of first person accounts in the Tess books.
Also good, two stories involving a DC “madam” character living in suburban Maryland and getting into scrapes based on the rules in which she lives by breaking down and things happen.
Over all, I wish she didn’t fall into the bad habits of solving every hang up with a murder and spent more time following through with the characters she’s created. Those are the stories that work best.