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Boston Noir (Akashic Noir) Paperback – November 1, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In the best of the 11 stories in this outstanding entry in Akashic's noir series, characters, plot and setting feed off each other like flames and an arsonist's accelerant. These include Lehane's own Animal Rescue, about a killing resulting from a lost and contested pit bull; John Dufresne's The Cross-Eyed Bear, in which a pedophile priest is caught between the icy representative of the archdiocese and one of his now adult victims; and Don Lee's The Oriental Hair Poets, which charts a literary feud that escalates into a police case. Two populations that define the city for outsiders—the elite WASP Brahmins and the hundreds of thousands of college students surging through to earn their degrees—appear only in passing. While Lehane expresses the fear in his introduction that Boston is becoming beiger, less tribal and gritty and more gentrified and homogenized, this anthology shows that noir can thrive where Raymond Chandler has never set foot. (Nov.)
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The latest in Akashic’s noir anthologies focusing on specific cities—there have been more than 30 of them since the series’ inception in 2004—features 11 original stories, each set in a different Boston neighborhood. In his introduction, editor Lehane calls noir “working-class tragedy,” which is an apt description of these stories. A woman murders her boss over an oft-promised but never-delivered promotion; a man finds a dog in the garbage, adopts it, and winds up exacting punishment on the dog’s abusive former owner; a down-on-his-luck New York musician, forced by his wife to relocate to Boston, finds something very unusual to do to pass the time; a post–World War II private eye is hired by a beautiful woman whose hidden agenda has unexpected results. The stories, written by Lehane and a host of contributors (including Brendan DuBois, Stewart O’Nan, and Jim Fusilli), are uniformly solid, with characters, plots, and atmosphere that evoke the classic noirs of Cain, Woolrich, and Thompson. --David Pitt
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Top customer reviews
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If you like Dennis Lehane type books then this is right up your alley. If you are from the Boston area as well then this is a book you will enjoy.
My summary: Wonderful book. Written by several authors that are up and coming. Short stories, well written. Buy it you will like it.
I still buy anything with Lehane's name on it. And now I will look for more from the authors included in this book. They are amazing and you ought to get to know them. You will be happy you did. Trust me.
All in all, a nice collection - and an interesting premise. I understand that Lehane has assembled several books of this nature, each taking place in a different section of a major city - I'll be picking up a copy of those soon.
Although the entries are a bit uneven, I found some of them very entertaining. In just a few pages of the first story, Lynne Heitman sets the mood, creates dramatic tension and builds a nice visual image of the Financial District office in which the action occurs. A woman who is passed over for a job has shot her boss and is holding her rival hostage. The author manages simultaneously to create a feeling of sympathy and vague dislike for the captive businessman. The author saves her best lines to describe the woman with the gun: "This suit has never really fit, and the dark blue Tahari would have hidden the blood stains better."
Dennis Lehane's story features a confrontation between small time hoods in Dorchester. The story has atmosphere, compelling characters and classic noir visuals like: "The street signs and window panes rattled, and Bob thought how winter lost any meaning the day you last rode a sled. Any meaning but grey."
My other favorite was Brendan DuBois' Dark Island. Locales in the story include Scollay Square, the waterfront and one of the small islands off the coast of the city. In a staple beginning of the genre, a mysterious woman walks into the office of a gumshoe. She is pretty, needs help and is not what she seems.
These stories takes place in various locations in and around Boston (Beacon Hill, the North End, Watertown) and are from different time periods (colonial, post WW II, the sixties). I like the genre, am a fan of Lehane and come from Boston. For me, this book was a nice blend of all three.