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Phoenix Noir (Akashic Noir) Paperback – November 1, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The 16 stories in this stellar volume in Akashic's noir series paint a vivid portrait of the underside of Phoenix, where the gulf between rich and poor ensures [c]rime, and lots of it, as Millikin observes in his introduction. The writers make superb use of locale so that the sprawl, desert, history and especially the heat become characters in their fiction. Among the standouts are Robert Anglen's Growing Back, an unforgettable journey through a prisoner's consciousness, from the hell of his crimes and incarceration to the incestuous bed he shared with his mother; Luis Alberto Urrea's Amapola, in which a teenage lothario makes the possibly fatal mistake of falling for a drug lord's daughter; and Laura Tohe's Tom Snag, an updated version of the Native American shape-shifter myth as visited upon a hammered, horny barfly. Other contributors include Gary Phillips, Don Winslow, Lee Child, James Sallis and Megan Abbott. This book is an absolute must-read for noir fans. (Nov.)
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"Patrick Millikin...as if to prove his witty claim that 'sunshine is the new noir,' offers one superb specimen, 'Whiteout on Van Buren,' in which [author] Don Winslow makes skillful use of a city street at high noon to provide the perfect metaphor for life and death." --New York Times, November 15, 2009
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Product Details

  • Series: Akashic Noir
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Akashic Books; First Edition edition (November 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933354852
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933354859
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #390,900 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Diana Gabaldon is the New York Times bestselling author of the wildly popular Outlander novels-Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, Drums of Autumn, The Fiery Cross, and A Breath of Snow and Ashes (for which she won a Quill Award and the Corine International Book Prize)-and one work of nonfiction, The Outlandish Companion, as well as the bestselling series featuring Lord John Grey, a character she introduced in Voyager. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Spend a few years in Phoenix and it's easy to think you know her. But the truth is that the real Phoenix is mercurial and constantly changing. There is no denying editor Patrick Millikin's description of the city's unchecked urban sprawl as "metastacizing into the desert" with never ending additions of one more resort or mall or subdivision. Whatever it is at any given moment, however, the shiny, sparkling Valley of the Sun seems an unlikely setting for Noir fiction -- and that's exactly the contradiction that makes Phoenix Noir such a compelling read.

Millikin's selection of stories seems to suggest that Phoenix herself is the ultimate noir metaphor -- the perfect femme fatale -- her sultry, beautiful surface giving way to a back story that is often flawed, complex and dangerous. Running through each of the narratives is the omnipresent notion that in the Valley of the Sun, no one is completely safe and that morality often takes a back seat to more immediate and baser indulgences.

But those who take in the superficial -- palatial estates, five-star resorts, the tanned and perfect East Valley soccer moms -- and write Phoenix off as the dumb blonde of the southwest tend to miss the point. Phoenix Noir digs a little deeper.

Diana Gabeldon's wicked tale of murder, sex and suburban social climbing; Don Winslow's poignant reflection on the city's notorious Van Buren strip; Stella Pope Duarte's lament for the lost and Millikin's gritty sojourn into the early 80's punk scene are just a few of the tales that bear witness to those consumed by the city and her dirty little secrets - secrets Phoenicians prefer not to put in travel brochures.

Readers who are new to the Valley of the Sun will love the depth and diversity of this collection of well crafted stories.
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Format: Paperback
As the opening titles fade in Alfred Hitchcock's immortal film "Psycho," the camera begins to pan slowly across the gray urban landscape of Phoenix, Arizona in the late 1950s. Finally the camera selects a building and slowly zooms in through the open window of a seedy hotel room. Janet Leigh lies on the bed, wearing only a white slip and bra, and before her married lover can even deliver the first line of dialogue, you know damn well that nothing good can possibly come of this.

Now, nearly fifty years later, Patrick Millikin's "Phoenix Noir" captures perfectly that same sense of dread, suggesting that something may be terribly wrong at the core of this city. Millikin has recruited an impressive array of crime fiction writers who have contributed stories to this book, including Lee Child, Don Winslow, Jon Talton and James Sallis. The stories are uniformly good and cut a broad swath through the Valley of the Sun, both in time and in space, showing readers a side of Phoenix that the Convention and Visitors Bureau would never dare feature in its glossy brochures. The stories are gritty, sexy and violent, revealing the sordid underbelly of a city much better known these days for its sunshine and superficiality.

Millikin's own story, "Devil Doll," is among the best in the book, and the editor more than holds his own in the company of the better-known writers. Fans of noir fiction anywhere, but especially those who know the Phoenix area, will enjoy this collection immensely.
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When I first think of Phoenix, having lived here for almost twenty years, I tend to think of suburban and exurban sprawl and a beige, characterless existence among transplants from other, more defined regions of the country, who move to the warmth and let their previous affiliations melt away. This book, though, made me see my own metropolitan region in a far different, more layered, more interesting way! The stories are probably the best in the Akashic set that I've read--and I own many of the books. Different time periods are represented, which is great, and the plots are all moving and page-turning. I totally loved it.
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Format: Paperback
Some of the previous reviewers seem to want to focus on the negativity of Phoenix as a City, and seem to have missed the very point of this book: There is noir in Phoenix, Arizona. It might be lurking below the dust-laden desert locations, or hidden beneath the concrete surfaces, but boy is it there. This book collects some edgy tales that bring out that darkness that is often politically tucked beneath the sunny exterior of the City. By combining that concept with some of the best mystery and crime writers of today, editor Patrick Millikin has assembled a delicious collection of crime writing; one that makes this one of the best volumes of the already-stellar city Noir series.

As a resident of this nutty City for many years, I've lived through a lot of the crazy events that have occurred here, and have been to many of the landmarks that are noted in the stories. Many of the stories have done a terrific job of placing their fictional tale directly into Phoenix history, bringing new life to stories of the past. Writers Sallis, Talton, Kelly, Gabaldon and Millikin himself are all residents or ex-residents of Phoenix, and the details that swim within their stories are wonderful. I found myself falling into a nostalgic haze at times. In addition, there are some powerhouse crime, mystery and thriller writers in this collection, such as Lee Child, Megan Abbott, Gary Phillips and crazy Don Winslow, who all knock their stories out of the park. This is one collection that I will gladly recommend to friends in the months to come.
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