Monday, May 9, 2011


  "San Diego Noir" is the latest in the Akashic Books locality-based series. For those of you unfamiliar with the set, they are a collection of short stories tied to a particular city or geographic area.  Often they are edited by authors associated with the places in the title.
     The latest installment consists of stories by some nationally well-known writers and some local and first-time authors.  This fits the usual pattern in the series.

     Maryelizabeth Hart, an indie bookseller, has done a wonderful job in gathering a strong collection of  crime stories.  They range from tales of San Diego during World War 2 to the present and all its issues.

     The better known authors(Jeff Parker, Don Winslow, Luis Alberto Urrea, et al) deliver strong stories as expected.  However, the stories by writers, I at least, do not know, give us equally compelling tales.

     The art of the short story and its popularity has waned over the years. Akashic, in this series, numbering over 45 volumes and counting, has done a lot to keep the genre alive.  Without divulging too much(Don't you hate it when reviews lay out the entire plot of books?) I found the following especially effective.

     T. Jefferson Parker pens a classic noir with a Hollywood, by way of San Diego, twist.

Maryelizabeth Hart will be signing
at The Poisoned Pen with husband,
fellow author and co-owner of
The Mysterious Galaxy, Jeff Mariotte. 

Jeff Mariotte
  Jeffrey Mariotte presents us with a nasty noir dilemma.

     Martha Lawrence gives us a very clever story with a delightful Southern California mystical angle.

     Don Winslow(presently riding the success of his novel "Satori") is one of my favorite authors and he comes through big time here.  His story takes place in 1945 but is just as timely in its subject then as it is now.

     Gar Anthony Haywood drops us into the wicked fun of San Diego's Comic-Con: Bad things ensue.

     Gabriel Barillas shows us San Diego from the perspective of the illegals in a heart-breaker of a story.

     The great Luis Alberto Urrea take Junior Garcia back to the "hood" and even incorporates a trip to Arizona and its controversial stand on immigration.

     Eight more tales round out the collection, even a kind of vampire noir, and they all portray San Diego from unique perspectives.  If you enjoy short stories, noir-crime, or have visited San Diego this a good opportunity to see the city from some very different angles.

     While Hart's book is a standout I would be remiss in not mentioning our own addition to the series.  "Phoenix Noir"($16), edited by the Poisoned Pen's own bookseller to the world, Patrick Millikin, has a truly star-studded roster of authors.  In fact the aforementioned Luis Alberto Urrea's story won the Edgar award as the best of the year.  While I am sure that readers of the Poisoned Pen blog already own this volume, for any who do not, now is your chance.  It has great stories that exploit all areas of our valley by terrific writers.  Buy it or order it and Patrick will gladly sign and personalize it for you.

     And finally remember:  Buying books at the Poisoned Pen is good for the soul.

    -Steve Schwartz

To browse the Noir editions from Akashic which The Poisoned Pen has on hand, click here

Baltimore NoirRichmond Noir (Akashic Noir)Dublin Noir: The Celtic Tiger vs. the Ugly American (Akashic Noir Series)DC Noir (Akashic Noir)Lone Star Noir (Akashic Noir)9781933354392.jpg

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