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Like A Charm: A Novel in Voices    edited by Karin Slaughter order for
Like A Charm
by Karin Slaughter
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2004 (2004)
* *   Reviewed by Rashmi Srinivas

The journey of an ill-fated bracelet (with sixteen glittering charms) through time and across continents forms the basis for the sixteen interconnected stories in this book. Karin Slaughter begins the anthology with Rootbound. She tells us how the unlucky bracelet comes to be forged in 1803 in the mountains of Georgia, and how a trapper is caught in its fatal allure. He becomes crazed with desire for both the bracelet and its creator.

In Emma Donoghue's Vanitas, a young Creole girl discovers the price paid for vanity after the bracelet comes into her possession. Peter Robinson's Cornelius Jubb takes us to war-torn Leeds, where a young man is implicated in murder thanks to the bracelet. And on it travels. The bracelet, with its varied charms, keeps changing owners from America to England and back. Along the way, it reveals the basest of the base in human nature. Each story begins with a character finding, stealing or receiving the bracelet. Towards its ending, the bracelet is lost, thrown or given away and acquired by someone from the next tale. The stories are authored by some of the most popular mystery writers today, both English and American: Laura Lippman, Mark Billingham, Jerrilyn Farmer, Fidelis Morgan, Lee Child, Denise Mina, Lynda la Plante, John Harvey, Kelley Armstrong, Peter Moore Smith, John Connolly and Jane Haddam, in addition to the three already mentioned.

Each author picks up the ongoing story, gives it their own touch, and conveys a lesson in their individual style. These well-written accounts cover the full spectrum of possibilities for the dark and treacherous psyche of individuals, ranging from acts of simple blackmail and serial killings to the truly bizarre. While the lessons are subtle, the miasma of depression and darkness that these short stories emanate is outright chilling.

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