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The Anthology of Cozy-Noir Paperback – October 31, 2014
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The first story I really like was The Pact. Although I didn't quite buy the protag going along with her friends' murderous impulses or caving to them simply because one of them become a pain when he "gets a bee in his bonnet." Too convenient and easy a conflict, but nonetheless, I liked the story for its easy tone and fun ending which I saw coming despite the author's blink-and-you-miss-it hints. Yay me!
Sweet Murder I liked for its writing, not necessarily for the actual crime which didn't seem motivated enough. But the author's down-home colloquialisms and the way in which she described the small town feud between the two bakers was well done and quite charming.
Everybody Knows this is Nowhere had an unexpected twist, which is a compliment since--due to this genre--I was on the lookout for clues, motivations and such in every story. But there wasn't much mystery once the twist--or surprise--happened, but I enjoyed the author's writing style and how he wove the narrative of the protag's backstory into the story and contrasted it to that of Sam. Well done.
I liked the voice and hard-boiled language in Noir is Dead. This line was especially good: "Mindy's customers were under some mind control. Wires coming from their ears, staring at something in their hands no bigger than a deck of cards." One of many excellent turns of phrase though I can't say the plot itself was as strong. A pity, since the protag was so appealing.
Bravisimo had the makings of a great story but again, the murder/twist was entirely too convenient. I liked the narrator too much to believe he was dumb enough not to spot the murderer sooner instead of waiting so long he got pegged for the crime. I remark on the story here, because the writing was strong in every other capacity. The descriptions of both scenery and the lifestyles of the wealthy donors--not to mention the best ways in which to loosen them up--was excellently drawn and I wished the murder/denouement had been just as solid.
Dead Dames Don't Wear Diamonds was solid writing, even if the set-up was visible from a mile away. But I think in this case, we're supposed to see the set-up and watch the protag fall in because staying out of jail is not finally the point. The lusty adoration of the woman was cute and so the end, while not exactly shocking, was satisfying.
Little J's Sweet Potato Pie was a complex, masterfully woven tale that had so many excellent shots of dialogue and perfectly spare turns of phrase, there are too many to quote. "Like he didn't have an idea. Like that wasn't why he was wriggling." Without context, that example might not mean much, but in the course of the narrative, it was nigh-perfect. Not so perfect was Little J's street lingo. I'm not a reader that fusses too much over accents--I usually don't mind so long as they don't overwhelm. But here, it wasn't always accurate. "Finish they sandwich." "They" in the street sense means "their" or "they're" Not "your". A few missteps like this threw me out but not too much. Should the author tighten the voice of her VERY appealing protag, I'd have nothing to complain about. The street world in which Little J and Gideon lived and struggled in was beautifully realized. Overall a strong story by an author to watch.
The last story was my favorite in every aspect. The murder was a true surprise and not at all convenient or contrived. The writing was strong and the relationships well-described despite the fact there were many of them. The motivation--on BOTH ends; both murderer and plotters--was founded, another problem in some mysteries where the killers are eager to kill, the selfish are soullessly evil. Not so here, in which the cast of characters was each rounded out and the last lines? Perfection. Highly satisfying.
Thirteen authors, Robert Lopresti, Judy Brownsword, Magdalena Jones, Herschel Cozine, L.E. Schwaller, Percy Spurlark Parker, Michael Guillebeau, Kate McCorkle, David Himmel, Lynn Kinnaman, Wenda Morrone, John Haas and myself contributed stories that run the gamut from dark and murderous to light and tongue-in-cheek.
The stories were set in small towns and large cities and in diverse locations---from the Ozark hills, New York City in the 1940s, a Chicago penthouse, a Canal Street bar, a pizza joint, a Texas honky tonk, a county fair, a masquerade charity ball, diners where you just might run into the wrong dame, a small town where jukeboxes play sad country songs to a home where a bedroom game turns deadly.
There are stories of lust, murder, deceit, mayhem, revenge—with a smattering of knitting and a few servings of pie.
Cowboys, mobsters, private dicks, lawyers, bodyguards, devious dames and your average Joes star in each of these stories of cozy-noir. Editor Andrew MacRae did an admirable job of selecting a diverse overview of characters, locations and story types.
Disclaimer: Although I do have a story in the book, I purchased a paperback copy from which my review was written.
Most recent customer reviews
The Anthology of Cozy-Noir from Darkhouse Books is just the ticket if you’re looking for a mystery fix, but don’t have time for an entire novel.Read more