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Philadelphia Noir (Akashic Noir) Paperback – October 19, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The 15 stories in this Akashic noir anthology mostly support Romano's thesis in his introduction: œPhiladelphia noir is different from the mood, the sensibility, the dimensions, of noir encountered in more glamorous American cities  such as New York or L.A., because it is œordinary noir--the humble killings, robberies, collars, cold cases that confront people largely occupied with getting by.  Dennis Tafoya, one of the better known contributors, exemplifies Romano's point with œAbove the Imperial,  about a petty thief with a crush on a woman who works in the Chinese restaurant below his apartment. In contrast, a home invasion at the start of Solomon Jones's well-written œScarred  turns out to be anything but ordinary. Halimah Marcus's œSwimming  and Laura Spagnoli's œA Cut Above  don't break any new ground, but their accounts of violent obsession and table-turning grip. Unsurprisingly, the book as a whole is comparable to Detroit Noir, another volume set in a less glamorous metropolis.
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Review

"It's a collection enhanced by an unerring sense of place [...] that will please the most discriminating lovers of the dark side." --Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2010

"It's a collection enhanced by an unerring sense of place [...] that will please the most discriminating lovers of the dark side." --Kirkus Reviews

"It took long enough for Akashic's noir series to get to Philly. Now that it has, compiled under the shadowy auspices of Inquirer literary critic/West Philly native Carlin Romano, the fun begins." --Philadelphia City Paper

"Carlin Romano assembles a balanced collection of stories from local writers reflecting the neighborhoods and sensibilities of the city and residents without romanticizing them. [... T]here's no story in PHILADELPHIA NOIR that should be excised, and nothing that I can't believe couldn't happen." --Syndicate Product Covert
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Product Details

  • Series: Akashic Noir
  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Akashic Books; Original edition (October 19, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936070634
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936070633
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #967,098 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By April M on January 2, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read a lot of books, so checked this out from the library merely to fill some time, but I ended up buying the book. What's so good about it is that, like the other Noir editions, the editor chooses authors from among different burroughs and townships in and around Philadelphia. It's divided into 4 sections: The City of Bursts (S. Philly, Strawberry Mansion, W.Philly, Grays Ferry); City of Otherly Love (East Falls, Rittenhouse Square, Narberth); The Faker City (Fishtown, Fairmont, University City, Bella Vista) and Those Who Forget the Past (Frankford, Old City, S. Street, Chestnut Hill).

Be forwarned that each story is definitely noir, so you're not going to see Philly's best side here. But I loved that each capitalizes on a different setting within Philly. Anyone who has lived more than a miniscule amount of time in this amazing town knows that it is several cities in one. Philadelphia Noir stays true to that theme....from the creepy psychiatrist in Narberth to the ghosts in Old City to my favorite "Cannot Easy Normal Die," a tale by the book's editor, of the only place in University City encompassing an entire city block, and what the person that buys this place discovers about it. Finally, it seemed to me that the themes of the stories stayed fairly true to the stereotypes of each place within the city. For any noir lover interested in Philadelphia, I think it is well worth the price.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By F. Weldon Burge on April 28, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Philadelphia Noir is another fabulous addition to the Akashic city noir series. As editor Carlin Romano writes in the introduction: "Per capita, Philadelphia matches any city weirdo incident for weirdo incident. But we trump everyone on history." It's not surprising that the 15 stories included here not only hint at the mood and flavor of this great city, but imbue a sense of history to their noirish sensibilities.

I particularly liked three stories that harkened back to Philadelphia's history: "Lonergan's Girl" by Duane Swierczynski, set in the Frankford area in 1924, with its sudden violence on the Frankford El; "Ghost Walk" by Cary Holladay, set in Chestnut Hill in 1899, and its creepy bartender; and "The Ratcatcher" by Gerald Kolpan, set on South Street also in the mid- or late 1800s, about rodents and entrepreneurship. Like the other stories in the anthology, each had its own distinctive voice and style, and provided keen insight on the culture of Philadelphia over the years. Well done and entertaining!

Some of the stories stretch the definition of "noir"--but all are of high literary quality and well worth reading. And if you're familiar with Philadelphia, you'll have fun matching the stories with the locales that you've visited (or may even currently live in).

(A version of this review was also published in the April 2011 issue of Suspense Magazine.)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Meredith on December 30, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent. Gripping. This was a Christmas present for my MIL but I thumbed through it and can't wait to read it when she is done. It grabs you immediately.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 18, 2014
Format: Paperback
Akashic Books is an independent Brooklyn-based small publisher which, beginning in 2004, has published over 50 paperback books of noir stories. Each of the books is set in a different place and with a small number of exceptions for classical stories, each consists of never-before published works. Most of the books are set in large American cities, but the series has expanded to include titles such as "Indian country noir" and noir set in foreign locations.

Several things prompted me to read this volume of Philadelphia stories, "Philadelphia Noir" (2010) edited by Carlin Romano. I attended law school in Philadelphia many years ago and remember exploring many areas of the city. Much more recently, I discovered the noir novels of David Goodis, many of which are set in some of the Philadelphia neighborhoods described in this volume. Goodis' most famous novel, "Down There", set in Philadelphia is available in a Library of America compilation of noir writing Crime Novels: American Noir of the 1950s: The Killer Inside Me / The Talented Mr. Ripley / Pick-up / Down There / The Real Cool Killers (Library of America) (Vol 2) while a second LOA volume includes an additional five Goodis novels, three of which are set in Philadelphia. David Goodis: Five Noir Novels of the 1940s and 50s (Library of America) Finally, I read a recent book by editor Carlin Romano on the nature of intellectual life in the United States.
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