Book Review - Los Angeles Noir

If I had to be forced into a full star rating system, I would begrudgingly round up Los Angeles Noir to three-stars. But this is my blog, so we're knocking that down to a 2.5

I've read three of the Noir series from Akashic Books (LA, Vegas, OC) and the collections are very up and down as far as the story quality goes. The LA entry into the series is no exception, which is disappointing when you consider how often Los Angeles has proven to be a formidable home for many classic noir tales.

There's a lot of hit and miss here, leaning more towards the miss. Without naming names, I suspect some of the stories were selected for the collection based on the author's bio versus the quality of the story.

I think a better editorial focus on what noir means to them would strongly help in collections like this. Even thematically, there's not a lot linking the stories together beyond basic geography. A lot of these stories could have taken place anywhere, in any large metropolitan city in the US.

But let's focus on the good, shall we? The jewel of this collection, with no doubt, is The Method by Janet Fitch, set in the Los Feliz section of LA. It's got everything you want from a noir tale set in LA: Hollywood old and new, sex, murder, and deception. It's worth the price of admission. I just wish the story had a stronger supporting cast around it in the collection.

Other highlights include: Mulholland Drive by Michael Connelly (set in... you guessed it), and Over Thirty by Christopher Rice (West Hollywood).

Los Angeles Noir, edited by Denise Hamilton - 2.5 out of 5 times that Raymond Chandler rolled over in his grave.


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