Fiction Noir: Thirteen Stories is a collection of noir crime fiction brought to the teeming public by Hen House Press in New York State. It’s currently available in ebook format with a paperback release anticipated this October. And as an avid supporter of the printed word, I will definitely be adding this to my bookshelf when it is released in glorious physical format (sorry digital ebook readers, I’ m not a fan).
Fiction Noir: Thirteen Stories is a beautiful homage to crime fiction and the film noir genres. Its strength is in its accessibility; both noir neophytes and indoctrinated disciples will find satisfaction in the wide varieties of plot, theme, and character. Playful story-lines laden with pineapple cake, dark humor, and charming hit-men are counterpointed perfectly by tales of redemption, suicide, and bizarre erotic behaviors. Needless to say, each point of my noir definition was satisfied by the many brilliant authors who contributed their works to this collection. As a work of noir crime fiction, the book seemed to relentlessly gather momentum as each successive story delivered its punchline. By the final three stories I was fully rapt by their escalating intensity; It was as if I was spiraling into a dark void. VERY noir.
A short story is like a seed, and just when it begins to sprout and break soil it’s stepped upon by its own conclusion. So it is with Fiction Noir. Within its pages germinate the seeds of great novels, stories that have the potential to scrape through the high boughs of the literary canopy and soak up the light of critical applause, but only saplings remain. Plainly stated, my only peeve was that I wished the stories were longer.
The greatest of the thirteen is called “When the Man Comes Around” by Bernard Schaffer, and is centered on a good Irish cop bent on redeeming his family. Jimmy O’Leary learns from his incarcerated brother that his nephew is due for an extreme neurological surgery (ice-pick lobotomy). As Jimmy investigates his brother’s ex-wife and her severe new husband, we learn that loyalty to his family is stronger than loyalty to his badge. Such stories weave beautifully into the canon of noir crime fiction, and the genre is better for it.
The appearance of Fiction Noir: Thirteen Stories is a witness that the noir genre is alive and well.