Noir: Crime fiction featuring hard-boiled characters and bleak, sleazy settings.
New Jersey. The Garden State. This small land mass contains America’s “most murderous city, Camden. Known for its ridiculously corrupted state government and its dense ties with organized crime, New Jersey is the perfect setting for a Noir story. In 2011 Akashic Books took its award-winning Noir series to the Garden State in the recently published, New Jersey Noir.
In the first story, a former junkie gets a job in the morgue. As one of the only employees who still seems to see the bodies as people, Jinx is often at odds with her colleagues. When Jinx receives the body of a young woman with flowing red hair, Jinx is touched in a way she can’t explain. There’s something about this case, ruled as an accidental overdose. Something a little off…
In another story, the son of a wealthy senator becomes a cop. Thinking that he’s just in it for the political aspect, everyone gives the kid the brush-off. However, when a routine patrol goes horribly wrong, the kid is forced to shoot and kill his attacker. The question is whether or not the new and surprisingly fragile police officer can handle the aftermath.
In a story about Grover’s Mill, a boy and his family are among the thousands that were fooled by the radio show “War of the Worlds”. Unable to handle his life anymore, his father walks into the nearby lake and drowns himself. Later, his mother accidently drowns in the same lake. Left with distant and borderline hostile grandparents, the boy has little choice but to live his life one day at time. When the grandfather dies a man comes to stay with the boy and his grandmother. The man isn’t quite right; a man that seems almost…inhuman.
In a first person story, a confession is given. “I shot Jimmy Hoffa.” The man proceeds to explain how the big dogs wanted Jimmy dead, and he was the hand that was meant to smite him. Listing the details that range from where Jimmy was shot to where he was buried, the man describes how the guilt has been eating at him for years. Which is, of course, why he had falsely admitted to all those other crimes.
This is a great group of short stories. The topics and writing styles vary and you’ll find more than author that you will want to look up.
You can find New Jersey Noir at any of Tulsa’s local book stores: Barnes & Noble and Gardners.
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