Collectibles, edited by Lawrence Block, is a mostly terrific themed anthology with 16 tales about unethical and highly motivated collectors. The table of contents reads like any given week on The New York Times bestseller list: Rob Hart, Joyce Carol Oates, and Dennis Lehane are but a few. The stories are a grab bag of bad deeds. S.A. Cosby’s “Blue Book Value” is an ironic tale about car collecting, greed, and comeuppance.
“The Skull Collector” by Joe R. Lansdale is an atmospheric action piece with Texas gangsters, grave robbing, and a pleasing climax where everybody gets exactly what they deserve. Almost. Dennis Lehane’s contribution, “A Bostonian (in Cambridge),” is a clever tale about a bookstore owner with a penchant for collecting “letters of abandonment.” Edgar Allan Poe’s Tammerlane and Other Poems plays a part, as does a long-lost twin sister. The conclusion is perfectly just, but sinister nonetheless. The anthology’s true gem is Lee Goldberg’s “Lost Shows” about a wealthy collector of short-lived and never-aired television series who will do anything to possess what he wants. A perfect, at times humorous, story from an underappreciated writer.