MysteryPeople Pick of the Month: DALLAS NOIR

dallas noir

Dallas is a rich man with a death wish in his eyes
A steel and concrete soul in a warm hearted love disguise

Editor David Hale Smith uses this part of Jimmy Dale Gilmore’s song in his introduction to Dallas Noir, the latest in Akashic Press’ “city noir” anthologies. The collection shares the theme of the song, looking at down and dirty behavior that exists under the city’s bucolic sheen. It also serves as a perfect model for the Akashik series, including a range of of authors who show the breadth of noir fiction.

Smith got two of Dallas’ best crime fiction authors to deliver classic takes on the genre. Daniel J Hale’s “In The Air” reads like something that could be found in a late fifties copy of Manhunt magazine, using the genre tropes of desperation and betrayal, with a modern Lone Star spin. Harry Hunsicker’s “Stick Up Girl” gives us a story of deadly dames, dead ends, guns, and gusto with a shot of hard boiled pathos.

Some of the authors use noir in a subtler sense, especially when it comes to economic extremes. Merritt Tierce gives us a dark look at the cycle of of self destruction that spins its wheels in one of the city’s serving class. Ben Fountain gives us a different take on the femme fatale in the world of high end real estate.

Many of the authors use the gallows humor of the genre. One of my favorite lines is in James Himes’ “Kissing Your Sister” when his Texas Ranger hero goes into a sketchy apartment complex “…where the cockroaches carry side arms.” Kathleen Kent’s lesbian cop gets caught between a drug cartel and civil war reenactors in “Coincidences Can Kill You.”

Many of the darkest tales with the least amount of redemption take place in the suburbs. Matt Boudurant turns the area of White Rock into Lord Of The Flies in his story. Jonathan Woods takes a piece of  suburban underground and goes to dark and funny extremes with “Swinger’s Anonymous”.

Dallas Noir is a fiction mosaic, showing a city of class divisions precariously held together by money, land, and false love. It also shows the expanse of noir and it’s power. Another fitting line from Gilmore’s song that reflects the book: Dallas is a jungle, but Dallas gives a beautiful light.

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Copies of Dallas Noir are available on the shelves at BookPeople and via bookpeople.com. Join us here at BookPeople when we welcome a group of authors to read their selections from Dallas Noir on Friday, December 6 at 7pm.

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