Archer's ( Kane and Abel ) talent as a raconteur is evident in these 12 distinctive short stories, all of which have surprise endings. Many center on human failings such as jealousy, obstinacy, pettiness or prejudice; 10 are based on "known incidents" that Archer has "embellished." An almost reportorial, straightforward style actually enhances each concluding jolt. In "The Perfect Murder," a married man kills his mistress, cunningly implicates someone else, and ensures that hapless person's conviction. "A La Carte" concerns Mark Hapgood, who grudgingly works as a lowly hotel porter to please his father, then unexpectedly becomes a celebrated hotel chef. The amorous, contented female narrator of "Just Good Friends" turns out to be a cat. The stunning "Christinia Rosenthal" shows the needless tragedy that results when a girl's anti-Semitic parents oppose her marriage to a rabbi's son.