I’ve been a fan of The X-Files since it premiered on FOX way back in 1993. I remember, quite fondly, watching the premiere with my mother and then, later, with friends as a trio of us creeped-out teens went for a walk around the neighborhood in the dark following the initial airing (and only airing on FOX) of the episode “Home.” Wandering the quiet, moonlit streets had not felt like the best of ideas so soon after meeting the Peacock family. The X-Files was one of the few shows I found myself religiously tracking on then-young America Online message boards, and then, many years later, I found myself tweeting #XFiles3 along with many other fans, begging 20th Century Fox for a third movie to wrap things up and properly celebrate the show’s twentieth anniversary. A third movie never happened, but the TV show did get a small reboot on-air, with the promise of more to come. I found myself in a rare spot for a man schooled by The X-Files and Agents Mulder and Scully, as we appeared to be recapturing the cultural zeitgeist that gave rise to the series and suddenly had new material featuring the intrepid agents in the form of comic books from IDW, a fresh batch of TV episodes, and, now, this first book in a series of anthologies – I found myself believing and trusting that The X-Files was alive once again.
Trust No One, edited by Jonathan Maberry, presents fifteen short stories from various authors, each opening up a new X-Files case that finds our intrepid FBI’s Most Unwanted chasing after, or being on the run from, paranormal activity and black-suited government agents of ill repute, some of whom leave behind the strong odor of cigarette smoke. Tim Lebbon starts the book off in strong fashion with “Catatonia,” about a group of missing teens who have returned and are catatonic. My favorite, though, was Brian Keene’s “Non Gratum Anus Rodentum,” a Skinner-centric story that involves were-rats and his history in Vietnam. Like most other anthologies, Trust No One is a mixed bag. I didn’t love every story here, but there are a number of truly worthwhile X-Files investigations that deserve exploration. Other standouts includes “Paranormal Quest” by Ray Garton and “The House on Hickory Hill” by Max Allan Collins, a pair of haunted house stories with a welcome twist in each. Kevin J. Anderson, who wrote a number of The X-Files books back in the day, is a welcome and familiar voice to the anthology with his story “Statues.”
Tackling these stories are narrators Bronson Pinchot and Hillary Huber, whose duties are divided between Mulder’s and Scully’s points-of-view. Pinchot carries the bulk of this book’s fifteen-plus hours run-time, but the two narrators occasionally work together on a single story that shifts between Mulder and Scully, and Huber narrates the handful of Scully-centric stories solo. Both Pinchot and Huber deliver a solid enough narration, with Pinchot showing a dynamic range in character voices and regional accents. And while Pinchot handles Mulder’s deadpan dialogue well enough, it does take some time getting used to new, different actors inhabiting the roles that Gillian Anderson, David Duchovny, and supporting cast members like Mitch Pillegi and William B. Davis, have made so iconic and familiar. On the production end of things, I have no complaints. The sound quality is fine, and the audio is crisp and clean, making for an easy listen.
Trust No One may not completely capture the glory days of The X-Files, but it does provide a number of intriguing avenues for investigation. The best stories here were a delightful reminder of why I fell in love with this series and these characters way back when, and perfectly capture the tone of the series, balancing the agents’ quirkiness and skepticism, and humor and horror. Those stories alone make this worth the price of entry.