Friday, 9 January 2015

A Century of Noir: Thirty-two Classic Crime Stories, 2002

I’d planned to review The Accused, a hardboiled novel by Harold R. Daniels for Friday’s Forgotten Books at Patti Abbott’s blog Pattinase but since there were still a few more pages left to be read, I thought I’d write about a collection of stories I'd overlooked so far.

© www.penguin.com
I found A Century of Noir: Thirty-two Classic Crime Stories on Amazon. The crime fiction anthology is edited by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins, and published by the New American Library, a Penguin Random House company.

The anthology offers “Thirty-two stories of stunning ingenuity. Thirty-two writers of legendary genius. One hundred years of crime fiction in a one-of-a-kind collection.”

Noir fiction is described in different ways by different people. You can say colourful things about it. Publishers Weekly put it nicely: “It may not actually span a century, but this volume offers plenty of blood, booze and cigarette smoke in worlds populated by flinty men and fetching women.”

I haven’t read any of the crime stories when they were first written and published, though I have read other stories by some of the authors in this collection. Apart from what appears to be an excellent storehouse of noir fiction, each of the thirty-two stories also offers an understanding of the art of writing crime fiction.


Contents

Introduction by Max Allan Collins

‘The Meanest Cop in the World’ by Chester Himes

‘Just Another Stiff’ by Carroll John Daly

‘Something for the Sweeper’ by Norbert Davis

‘I Feel Bad About Killing You’ by Leigh Brackett

‘Don’t Look Behind You’ by Fredric Brown

‘Death Comes Gift-Wrapped’ by William P. McGivern

‘Murder for Money’ by John D. MacDonald

‘Cigarette Girl’ by James M. Cain

‘Guilt-Edged Blonde’ by Ross Macdonald

‘The Gesture’ by Gil Brewer

‘The Plunge’ by David Goodis

‘Tomorrow I Die’ by Mickey Spillane

‘Never Shake a Family Tree’ by Donald E. Westlake

‘Somebody Cares’ by Talmage Powell

‘The Granny Woman’ by Dorothy B. Hughes

‘Wanted-Dead and Alive’ by Stephen Marlowe

‘The Double Take’ by Richard S. Prather

‘The Real Shape of the Coast’ by John Lutz

‘Dead Men Don't Dream’ by Evan Hunter

‘The Used’ by Loren D. Estleman

‘Busted Blossoms’ by Stuart M. Kaminsky

‘The Kerman Kill’ by William Campbell Gault

‘Deceptions’ by Marcia Muller

‘The Nickel Derby’ by Robert J. Randisi

‘The Reason Why’ by Ed Gorman

‘No Comment’ by John Jakes

‘How Would You Like It?’ by Lawrence Block

‘Grace Notes’ by Sara Paretsky

‘One Night at Dolores Park’ by Bill Pronzini

‘Dead Drunk’ by Lia Matera

‘Kaddish for the Kid’ by Max Allan Collins

‘Lost and Found’ by Benjamin M. Schutz

28 comments:

  1. There's a lot of familiar names on the author list, most of whom I have read. There are a few that are unfamiliar to me, so I've a mind to go and look up the likes of Lia Matera and Benjamin M. Shutz. Thanks for this one.

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    1. Col, you're welcome. I have read a few of the authors myself though many others, including the ones you mentioned, are unfamiliar to me. I hope to get hold of a copy soon.

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  2. You can't go wrong with Spillane and Collins. Noir is a growing genre.

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    1. George, I started reading a lot of noir only after I started bloggng.

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  3. I've read things by most of the writers, but I haven't read most of these stories. Looks like a find anthology.

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    1. Bill, an anthology like this enables one to sample the works of some of the finest crime writers known to us. Such stories are the next best thing to full-length novels.

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  4. I did not know about this collection but I definitely want to have a look at it.

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    1. Charles, me too. I hope it comes out as an ebook, though I'll see if I can find a copy in the bookstores.

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  5. I've read twelve of these, and I'm sure the rest are just as good. A nice mix of authors and styles, a collection well worth the price.

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    1. Absolutely, Richard. I love reading short story collections. Great authors in one basket.

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  6. I am not a great one for short stories, but I have read one of these, the Fredric Brown, which I think is beyond brilliant, one of the most scarey things I have ever read....

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    1. Moira, thanks for highlighting Fredrc Brown's story. I'll see if I can find it independently.

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  7. This is a great anthology. I found it in a used shop a few years ago (and lost in my last move). My favorites are "The Plunge" by David Goodis and "Don't Look Behind You" by Fredric Brown. I may have reviewed both stories over at Gravetapping. Happy reading.

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    1. Ben, thank you. If I looked hard enough I think I'd find this anthology in used bookshops in Bombay. There wouldn't be many takers for it.

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  8. Replies
    1. Ron, the table of contents does read like a who's who of crime fiction.

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  9. I have avoided short stories for so long, and now I get excited when I see what looks like a good selection. Such a wide selection of authors.

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    1. Tracy, I'd be reading far less if I wasn't reading short stories. You can read stories in an anthology at random.

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    1. Neer, I agree, it's a treasure of noir fiction.

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  11. For some odd reason, I tend to like Noir movies, but the books are just so so for me. Not sure why though.

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    1. Ryan, I have been doing the opposite — reading more noir books than watching noir movies probably because of accessibility.

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  12. This sounds interesting, Prashant. I hope it's available in hard copy as it's the sort of thing I'd like to read on paper. I'm going to look for it now!

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    1. Sarah, I think only a hard copy is currently available though I wouldn't mind a Kindle edition. The lineup of crime writers is interesting, I agree.

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  13. Thanks for pointing this out - I'm more familiar with classic film noir (which has been taken from written stories too), but not so much with the hardboiled detective fics - and since I love short stories, I'm making note of this collection.

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    1. HKatz, you're welcome. I discovered it only last week. I love short stories too. I also like watching classic noir films though I haven't seen many in the past couple of years.

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  14. Big fan of short stories here as these anthologies are so easy to pick up and put down when you're in the mood. This one's new to me but I'll look out for it.

    Colin

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    1. Colin, I'm a big fan of short stories too. I'd love to spend all my reading time reading short stories and short fiction. But then, I'm addicted to full-length novels too.

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