About the Author
Johnny Temple is the publisher and editor in chief of Akashic Books, an award-winning Brooklyn-based independent company. He won the 2013 Ellery Queen Award from the Mystery Writers of America; the American Association of Publishers’ 2005 Miriam Bass Award for Creativity in Independent Publishing; and the 2010 Jay and Deen Kogan Award for Excellence. He has contributed articles and political essays to various publications, including the Nation, Publishers Weekly, AlterNet, Poets&Writers, and Bookforum. He lives in Brooklyn.
Megan Abbott is the Edgar Award–winning author of six novels, including Dare Me, The End of Everything, and Bury Me Deep. Her writing has appeared in Detroit Noir, Queens Noir, Phoenix Noir, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times Magazine. She is the author of The Street Was Mine: White Masculinity and Urban Space in Hardboiled Fiction and Film Noir and editor of A Hell of a Woman, a female crime fiction anthology. She has been nominated for various awards, including the Steel Dagger, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the Pushcart Prize.
Lawrence Block, the editor of both Manhattan Noir and Manhattan Noir 2: The Classics, has been writing award-winning mystery and suspense fiction for half a century. His most recent novels are Hit Me, featuring Keller, and A Drop of the Hard Stuff, featuring Matthew Scudder, who will be played by Liam Neeson in the forthcoming film A Walk Among the Tombstones. He has also written episodic television (Tilt) and the Wong Kar-wai film, My Blueberry Nights. He is a modest and humble fellow, although you would never guess as much from this biographical note.
Tim Broderick is the creator of a graphic novel series featuring David Diangelo that originated as a webcomic on the Internet. He and his wife live in Chicago with their twin daughters, and all the women in the house are far smarter than he. He’s currently president of the Midwest chapter of Mystery Writers of America and is working on his fourth book, Children of the Revolution, which can be read for free at timbroderick.net.
Joseph Bruchac’s work, like the story in this collection, often reflects his Abenaki Indian ancestry and his deep interest in the history of the Adirondack Mountain region of upstate New York, where he was born—and still resides (in the house where his grandparents raised him).
Jerome Charyn’s most recent novels are The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson (2010) and Under the Eye of God (2012), the eleventh of his Isaac Sidel novels, which are being made into an animated television series. He is currently working on a novel about Abraham Lincoln and a study of Emily Dickinson.
Lee Child was fired and on the dole when he hatched a harebrained scheme to write a best-selling novel, thus saving his family from ruin. Killing Floor went on to win worldwide acclaim. His series hero, Jack Reacher, besides being fictional, is a kind-hearted soul who allows Child lots of spare time for reading, listening to music, and the Yankees. Visit www.leechild.com for information about the novels, short stories, and the movie Jack Reacher starring Tom Cruise.
Reed Farrel Coleman, author of fifteen novels, has been called a “hard-boiled poet” by NPR’s Maureen Corrigan and the “noir poet laureate” in the Huffington Post. He is the three-time winner of the Shamus Award for Best PI Novel of the Year and is a two-time Edgar Award nominee. He has also received the Macavity, Barry, and Anthony awards. Coleman is an adjunct professor of English at Hofstra University, and lives with his family on Long Island.
Michael Connelly is the best-selling author of twenty-five novels and one work of nonfiction. With over forty-five million copies of his books sold worldwide and translated into thirty-six foreign languages, he is one of the most successful writers working today. In 2002, Clint Eastwood directed and starred in the movie adaptation of Connelly’s 1998 novel Blood Work. In March 2011, the movie adaptation of his novel The Lincoln Lawyer hit theaters worldwide starring Matthew McConaughey as Mickey Haller. Connelly spends his time in California and Florida.
Jeffery Deaver, a former journalist, folk singer, and attorney, is an international number-one best-selling author. His novels have appeared on best-seller lists around the world, including the New York Times, the Times of London, Italy’s Corriere della Sera, the Sydney Morning Herald, and the Los Angeles Times. His books are sold in 150 countries and have been translated into twenty-five languages. His most recent novels are XO, a Kathryn Dance thriller, for which he wrote an album of country-western songs; and Carte Blanche, the latest James Bond continuation novel.
Barbara DeMarco-Barrett is author of Pen on Fire: A Busy Woman’s Guide to Igniting the Writer Within. She has worked as an auto-parts runner, baker, crisis intervention counselor, and more. Her nonfiction has been published in Orange Coast, Westways, the Los Angeles Times, The Writer, Writer’s Digest, and Poets&Writers. She teaches “Jumpstart Your Writing” for Gotham Writers’ Workshop and hosts Writers on Writing on KUCI-FM. For more information, visit www.penonfire.com.
Elyssa East is the author of the Boston Globe best-selling book, Dogtown: Death and Enchantment in a New England Ghost Town. A New York Times Editors’ Choice selection, Dogtown won the 2010 L.L. Winship/PEN New England Award for best work of nonfiction and was named a “Must-Read Book” by the Massachusetts Book Awards. East’s essays and reviews have been published in the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, Kansas City Star, and other publications nationwide.
Maggie Estep has published seven books and recorded two spoken-word CDs. She has been a horse groom and a go-go dancer and is a pit bull advocate. Estep’s books have been translated into four languages, optioned for film, and frequently stolen from libraries. She is presently working on two books and a TV show. Her short story included in this volume was adapted into a novel by the same name: Alice Fantastic. Estep lives in Hudson, New York.
Jonathan Safran Foer is the author of the award-winning and best-selling novels Everything Is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, as well as two works of nonfiction: Eating Animals and The New American Haggadah. His books have been published in over thirty languages, and he was included in Granta’s “Best of Young American Novelists” issue as well as the New Yorker’s “20 under 40” list of the best young writers in the US.
J. Malcolm Garcia is the author of The Khaarijee: A Chronicle of Friendship and War in Kabul and Riding through Katrina with the Red Baron’s Ghost. His articles have been featured in Best American Travel Writing and Best American Nonrequired Reading.
James W. Hall is the author of four books of poetry, a collection of short stories, a collection of essays, and seventeen novels. His most recent work is Hit Lit, a nonfiction examination of the dozen most successful best sellers of the twentieth century and the common features they share. He was a Fulbright professor of literature in Spain and a professor of literature and writing at Florida International University for thirty-five years. Hall has won both the Edgar and Shamus awards. He and his wife Evelyn and their three dogs divide their time between South Florida and the mountains of western North Carolina.
Pete Hamill is a veteran journalist and novelist. He is the author of seventeen books, including the best-selling A Drinking Life and a new story collection, The Christmas Kid. His nine novels include the New York Times best sellers Snow in August, Tabloid City, and Forever. He has covered wars in Vietnam, Nicaragua, Lebanon, and Northern Ireland, as well as the domestic disturbances in American cities in the 1960s. In addition to his many years as a columnist, he has served as editor in chief of the New York Post and the New York Daily News. He divides his time between New York City and Cuernavaca, Mexico.
Terrance Hayes is the 2010 recipient of the National Book Award in poetry. His most recent collection is Lighthead. His other books are Wind in a Box, Muscular Music, and Hip Logic. His honors include four Best American Poetry selections, a Whiting Writers’ Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He is a professor of creative writing at Carnegie Mellon University and lives in Pittsburgh.
Karen Karbo is the author of three novels, all of which have been named New York Times Notable Books of the Year. Her memoir, The Stuff of Life, about the last year she spent with her father before his death, won an Oregon Book Award. Her short stories, essays, articles, and reviews have appeared in Elle, Vogue, Esquire, Outside, O, More, the New Republic, the New York Times, Salon, and other magazines. Karbo is well known for her best-selling Kick Ass Women Series, the most recent of which is How Georgia Became O’Keeffe, published in 2011.
Bharti Kirchner is the author of nine books—five critically acclaimed novels and four cookbooks. Her latest novel is Tulip Season: A Mitra Basu Mystery. Her essays have appeared in ten anthologies, and she has won numerous awards, including a VCCA (Virginia Center for Creative Arts) Fellowship and two Seattle Arts Commission literature grants.
William Kent Krueger writes the New York Times best-selling Cork O’Connor mystery series, which is set in the north woods of Minnesota. His work has received a number of awards, including the Minnesota Book Award, the Loft-McKnight Fiction Award, the Anthony Award, the Barry Award, and the Friends of American Writers Literary Award. He does all his writing in a St. Paul coffee shop whose identity he prefers to keep secret.
Dennis Lehane is the author of the Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro mystery series (A Drink Before the War; Darkness, Take My Hand; Sacred; Gone, Baby, Gone; Prayers for Rain; and Moonlight Mile), as well as Coronado (five stories and a play) and the novels Mystic River, Shutter Island, The Given Day, and Live By Night. Three of his novels have been made into award-winning films. He edited the best-selling anthology Boston Noir and coedited Boston Noir 2: The Classics for Akashic Books.
Laura Lippman has published eighteen novels, a novella, and a book of short stories, and she edited Baltimore Noir for Akashic Books. Her work has been nominated for virtually every award open to North American crime writers and has won most of them, including the Edgar, Anthony, Quill, Nero Wolfe, and Agatha awards. Lippman lives in Baltimore and New Orleans.
Tim McLoughlin is the editor of Brooklyn Noir and its companion volumes. His debut novel Heart of the Old Country is the basis for the motion picture The Narrows, starring Vincent D’Onofrio. His books have been published in seven languages, and his writing has appeared in New York Quarterly, the Huffington Post, and Best American Mystery Stories. He was born and raised in Brooklyn, where he still resides.
Joyce Carol Oates, who edited New Jersey Noir for Akashic Books, is the author of a number of works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, including the novels Mudwoman, Little Bird of Heaven, and Blonde. Her collections of short fiction include High Lonesome: New and Selected Short Stories 1966–2006, Black Dahlia&White Rose, and The Corn Maiden. She is the 2011 recipient of the president’s National Humanities Medal, the 2012 recipient of the Norman Mailer Prize for Lifetime Achievement, and she won the PEN Center USA Award for Lifetime Achievement.
John O’Brien was born in 1960 and grew up in the Cleveland area. He and his wife of thirteen years, Lisa, married in 1979 and eventually settled in Los Angeles. O’Brien published his first critically acclaimed novel, Leaving Las Vegas, in 1990. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in April 1994, just weeks after signing over the film rights for Leaving Las Vegas. His posthumous publications include The Assault on Tony’s, Stripper Lessons, and Better.
Bayo Ojikutu is the critically acclaimed author of the novels 47th Street Black and Free Burning. His work has won the Washington Prize for Fiction and the Great American Book Award. Ojikutu’s short work has appeared in various collections, magazines, and journals. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and he has been recognized by the African American Arts Alliance for his contribution to literary fiction. Ojikutu and his family reside in Chicago.
T. Jefferson Parker was born in Los Angeles and has lived his life in Southern California. He is the author of nineteen crime novels, including the Edgar Award–winning Silent Joe and California Girl. His first book, Laguna Heat, was made into an HBO movie. His latest novel is The Famous and the Dead. He lives with his family in San Diego County.
George Pelecanos is the author of nineteen novels set in and around Washington, DC. He served as a writer and producer on HBO’s The Wire, The Pacific, and, most recently, Treme. He edited both DC Noir and DC Noir 2: The Classics for Akashic Books.
Pir Rothenberg’s work has appeared in Another Chicago Magazine, Dossier Journal, Harpur Palate, Juked, Makeout Creek, Overtime, Prick of the Spindle, Richmond Noir, River Styx, and Zahir. He is currently pursuing his PhD at Georgia State University.
S.J. Rozan, born and raised in the Bronx, is the award-winning author of thirteen novels and three dozen short stories, and the editor of two anthologies, including Bronx Noir for Akashic Books.
Lisa Sandlin was born in the Gulf Coast oil town of Beaumont, Texas. She’s the author of The Famous Thing About Death, Message to the Nurse of Dreams, In the River Province, You Who Make the Sky Bend, a collaboration with New Mexican santera Catherine Ferguson, and a coeditor of Times of Sorrow, Times of Grace. Her work has won numerous awards, including a Pushcart Prize and a Best Book of Fiction from the Texas Institute of Letters. “Phelan’s First Case,” included in this volume, was a finalist for the 2011 Shamus Award.
Julie Smith is the author of more than twenty mystery novels, most set in New Orleans and starring one or the other of her detective heroes, a cop named Skip Langdon and a PI named Talba Wallis. She is also the editor of New Orleans Noir for Akashic Books. Her book New Orleans Mourning won the Edgar Award for best novel. She has recently published her course on writing novels, Writing Your Way, as an e-book. Her digital publishing startup is www.booksBnimble.com.
Asali Solomon is the author of Get Down: Stories. Her work has been featured in the anthologies Philadelphia Noir, Heavy Rotation: Twenty Writers on the Albums that Changed Their Lives, and Naked: Black Women Bare All About Their Skin, Hair, Hips, Lips, and Other Parts. She received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award in 2006 and was selected as one of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” in 2007. She is at work on a novel.
Domenic Stansberry is an award-winning novelist known for his dark, innovative crime novels. His North Beach Mystery Series has won praise in the New York Times and other publications for its rich portrayal of the ethnic and political subcultures in San Francisco. An earlier novel, The Confession, received an Edgar Award for its controversial portrait of a Marin County psychologist accused of murdering his mistress.
Susan Straight has published eight novels. Her latest, Between Heaven and Here, is the final book in the Rio Seco trilogy. Take One Candle Light a Room was named one of the best novels of 2010 by the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and Kirkus. “The Golden Gopher,” included in this volume, won the 2008 Edgar Award for best short story. She teaches creative writing at University of California–Riverside. She was born in Riverside, California, where she lives with her family, whose history is featured on susanstraight.com.
Luis Alberto Urrea, Pulitzer Prize finalist and winner of the Edgar Award for the short story “Amapola” (included in this volume), is the best-selling author of fourteen books, including Queen of America, Into the Beautiful North, The Hummingbird’s Daughter, and The Devil’s Highway. Recipient of an American Book Award, a Kiriyama Pacific Rim Prize, a Lannan Literary Award, and a member of the Latino Literary Hall of Fame, Urrea lives with his family in Naperville, Illinois, where he is a distinguished professor of creative writing at the University of Illinois–Chicago.
Don Winslow is the New York Times best-selling author of more than a dozen novels, including Savages, The Power of the Dog, The Kings of Cool, California Fire and Life, The Winter of Frankie Machine, and Satori. Savages was made into a critically acclaimed film for Universal Pictures by three-time Oscar winner Oliver Stone. Winslow has received numerous awards for his writing, including the prestigious Raymond Chandler Award as one of the most significant figures in American literature
Read an Excerpt
Best of the Akashic Noir Series
By Johnny Temple
Akashic BooksCopyright © 2013 Akashic Books
All rights reserved.
Writers on the Run
In my early years as a book publisher, I got a call one Saturday from one of our authors asking me to drop by his place for "a smoke." I politely declined as I had a full day planned. "But Johnny," the author persisted, "I have some really good smoke." My curiosity piqued, I swung by, but was a bit perplexed to be greeted with suspicion at the author's door by an unhinged whore and her near-nude john. The author rumbled over and ushered me in, promptly sitting me down on a smelly couch and assuring the others I wasn't a problem. Moments later, the john produced a crack pipe to resume the party I had evidently interrupted. This wasn't quite the smoke I'd envisaged, so I gracefully excused myself after a few (sober) minutes. I scurried home pondering the author's notion that it was somehow appropriate to invite his publisher to a crack party.
It may not have been appropriate, but it sure was noir.
From the start, the heart and soul of Akashic Books has been dark, provocative, well-crafted tales from the disenfranchised. I learned early on that writings from outside the mainstream almost necessarily coincide with a mood and spirit of noir, and are composed by authors whose life circumstances often place them in environs vulnerable to crime.
My own interest in noir fiction grew from my early exposure to urban crime, which I absorbed from various perspectives. I was born and raised in Washington, DC, and have lived in Brooklyn since 1990. In the 1970s and '80s, when violent, drug-fueled crime in DC was rampant, my mother hung out with cops she'd befriended through her work as a nearly unbeatable public defender. She also grew close to some of her clients, most notably legendary DC bank robber Lester "LT" Irby (a contributor to DC Noir), who has been one of my closest friends since I was fifteen, though he was incarcerated from the early 1970s until just recently. Complicating my family's relationship with the criminal justice system, my dad sued the police stridently in his work as legal director of DC's American Civil Liberties Union.
Both of my parents worked overtime. By the time my sister Kathy was nine and I was seven, we were latchkey kids prone to roam, explore, and occasionally break laws. Though an arrest for shoplifting helped curb my delinquent tendencies, the interest in crime remained. After college I worked with adolescents and completed a master's degree in social work; my focus was on teen delinquency.
Throughout the 1990s, my relationship with the urban underbelly expanded as I spent a great deal of time in dank nightclubs populated by degenerates and outcasts. I played bass guitar in Girls Against Boys, a rock and roll group that toured extensively in the US and Europe. The long hours on the road not spent on stage gave way to book publishing, which began as a hobby in 1996 with my friends Bobby and Mark Sullivan.
The first book we published was The Fuck-Up, by Arthur Nersesian—adark, provocative, well-crafted tale from the disenfranchised. A few years later Heart of the Old Country by Tim McLoughlin became one of our early commercial successes. The book was widely praised both for its classic noir voice and its homage to the people of South Brooklyn. While Brooklyn is chock-full of published authors these days, Tim is one of the few who was actually born and bred here. In his five decades, Tim has never left the borough for more than five weeks at a stretch and he knows the place, through and through, better than anyone I've met.
In 2003, inspired by Brooklyn's unique and glorious mix of cultures, Tim and I set out to explore New York City's largest borough in book form, in a way that would ring true to local residents. Tim loves his home borough despite its flagrant flaws, and was easily seduced by the concept of working with Akashic to try and portray its full human breadth.
He first proposed a series of books, each one set in a different neighborhood, whether it be Bay Ridge, Williamsburg, Park Slope, Fort Greene, Bed- Stuy, or Canarsie. It was an exciting idea, but it's hard enough to publish a single book, let alone commit to a full series. After we considered various other possibilities, Tim came upon the idea of a fiction anthology organized by neighborhood, each one represented by a different author. We were looking for stylistic diversity, so we focused on "noir," and defined it in the broadest sense: we wanted stories of tragic, soulful struggle against all odds, characters slipping, no redemption in sight.
Conventional wisdom dictates that literary anthologies don't sell well, but this idea was too good to resist—it seemed the perfect form for exploring the whole borough, and we got to work soliciting stories. We batted around book titles, including Under the Hood, before settling on Brooklyn Noir. The volume came together beautifully and was a surprise hit for Akashic, quickly selling through multiple printings and winning awards. (See pages 548–550 for a full list of prizes garnered by stories originally published in the Noir Series.)
Having seen nearly every American city, large and small, through the windows of a van or tour bus, I have developed a deep fondness for their idiosyncrasies. So for me it was easy logic to take the model of Brooklyn Noir—sketching out dark urban corners through neighborhood-based short fiction—and extend it to other cities. Soon came Chicago Noir, San Francisco Noir, and London Noir (our first of many overseas locations). Selecting the right editor to curate each book has been the most important decision we make before assembling it. It's a welcome challenge because writers are often enamored of their hometowns, and many are seduced by the urban landscape's rough edges. The generous support of literary superheroes like George Pelecanos, Laura Lippman, Dennis Lehane, and Joyce Carol Oates, all of whom have edited series volumes, has been critical.
There are now fifty-nine books in the Noir Series. Forty of them are from American locales. As of this writing, a total of 787 authors have contributed 917 stories to the series and helped Akashic to stay afloat during perilous economic times. By publishing six to eight new volumes in the Noir Series every year, we have provided a steady venue for short stories, which have in recent times struggled with diminishing popularity. Akashic's commitment to the short story has been rewarded by the many authors—of both great stature and great obscurity—who have allowed us to publish their work in the series for a nominal fee.
I am particularly indebted to all sixty-seven editors who have cumulatively upheld a high editorial standard across the series. The series would never have gotten this far without rigorous quality control. There also couldn't be a Noir Series without my devoted and tireless (if occasionally irreverent) staff led by Johanna Ingalls, Ibrahim Ahmad, and Aaron Petrovich.
This volume serves up a top-shelf selection of stories from the series set in the United States. USA Noir only scratches the surface, however, and every single volume has more gems on offer.
When I set out to compile USA Noir, I was delighted by the immediate positive responses from nearly every author I contacted. The only author on my initial invitation list who isn't included here is one I couldn't track down: the publisher explained to me that the writer was "literally on the run." While I'm disappointed that we can't include the story, the circumstance is true to the Noir Series spirit.
And part of me—the noir part—is expecting a phone call from the writer, inviting me over for a smoke.
Excerpted from USA NOIR by Johnny Temple. Copyright © 2013 Akashic Books. Excerpted by permission of Akashic Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of ContentsIntroduction by Johnny Temple
PART I: TRUE GRIT
Dennis Lehane Dorchester
Animal Rescue Boston Noir
George Pelecanos Park View, N.W.
The Confidential Informant D.C. Noir
Susan Straight Downtown
The Golden Gopher Los Angeles Noir
Pete Hamill Park Slope
The Book Signing Brooklyn Noir
Joyce Carol Oates Kittatinny Mountains
Run Kiss Daddy New Jersey Noir
Terrance Hayes East Liberty
Still Air Pittsburgh Noir
Jerome Charyn Claremont/Concourse
White Trash Bronx Noir
PART II: AMERICAN VALUES
Maggie Estep Aqueduct Racetrack
Alice Fantastic Queens Noir
Bayo Ojikutu 77th&Jeffery
The Gospel of Moral Ends Chicago Noir
Tim McLoughlin Sunset Park
When All This Was Bay Ridge Brooklyn Noir
Barbara DeMarco-Barrett Costa Mesa
Crazy for You Orange County Noir
Reed Farrel Coleman Selden
Mastermind Long Island Noir
Karen Karbo S.E. Twenty-Eighth Avenue
The Clown and Bard Portland Noir
PART III: ROAD RAGE
Michael Connell y Mullholand Drive
Mulholland Dive Los Angeles Noir
Megan Abb bb ott Alter Road
Our Eyes Couldn’t Stop Opening Detroit Noir
Lee Child Chandler
Public Transportation Phoenix Noir
Jonathan Safran Foer Princeton
Too Near Real New Jersey Noir
James W. Hall Coconut Grove
Ride Along Miami Noir
Elyssa East Buzzards Bay
Second Chance Cape Cod Noir
PART IV: HOMELAND SECURITY
Don Winslow Pacific Beach
After Thirty San Diego Noir
J. Malcolm Garcia Troost Lake
Missing Gene Kansas City Noir
Julie Smith Garden District
Loot New Orleans Noir
Domenic Stansberry North Beach
The Prison San Francisco Noir
Joseph Bruchac Adirondacks
Helper Indian Country Noir
Laura Lipp man Locust Point
Easy As A-B-C Baltimore Noir
Pir Rothenberg Museum District
The Rose Red Vial Richmond Noir
PART V: UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Luis Alberto Urrea Paradise Valley
Amapola Phoenix Noir
John O’Brien Scotch 80s
The Tik Las Vegas Noir
S.J. Rozan St. George
Lighthouse Staten Island Noir
Asali Solomon West Philadelphia
Secret Pool Philadelphia Noir
William Kent Kruger West Side, St. Paul
Bums Twin Cities Noir
PART VI: STREET JUSTICE
T. Jefferson Parker Kearny Mesa
Vic Primeval San Diego Noir
Tim Broderick 40 Wall Street
Feeding Frenzy Wall Street Noir
Bharti Kirchner Wallingford
Promised Tulips Seattle Noir
The Ehrengraf Settlement Buffalo Noir
Lisa Sandlin Beaumont
Phelan’s First Case Lone Star Noir
Jeffery Deaver Hell’s Kitchen
A Nice Place to Visit Manhattan Noir
*Story order in final book subject to change