I’m happy to announce that the third volume in our Coast to Coast crime fiction series dropped last week. (See how cool I am: “dropped”.) I’m also happy to say, we’ve had some success with the first two volumes, Coast to Coast: Murder from Sea to Shining Sea and Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea. When the last volume came out I did a piece here on editing for it: click here. For this volume—Noir—I’m going to talk a little about noir, what we decided our definition of it is, and a little tease about each author’s story.
The authors in this volume are: Colleen Collins, Brendan DuBois, Alison Gaylin, Tom MacDonald, Andrew McAleer, Michael Mallory, Paul D. Marks, Dennis Palumbo, Stephen D. Rogers, John Shepphird, Jaden Terrell, Dave Zeltserman.
Coast to Coast: Noir from Sea to Shining Sea is the third in our series of Coast to Coast crime anthologies from Down and Out Books. The first two Coast to Coast collections garnered fifteen nominations and/or awards between them. Hopefully we’ll keep our record going with volume three. We have twelve terrific writers and stories.
The way that all the books have been laid out so far is that the stories start on the West Coast and each succeeding story moves a little farther east until we hit the East Coast. The thinking on this, at least in my mind, is to move left to right because that’s how we read on a page and it just seems comfortable.
From the intro to the book and pretty much what we suggested to the authors:
“What we asked for was noir in the classic tradition of David Goodis and Jim Thompson or movies like Double Indemnity. Our definition of noir is basically somebody tripping over their own faults: somebody who has an Achilles heel, some kind of greed, or want, or desire that leads them down a dark path. But within that the authors could be as down and dirty as they wanted. Time frame wasn’t an issue either. The stories could be set anywhere in time from now till back when.
We also don’t think noir has to be the dark of a rainy night or ominous shadows from Venetian blinds. There doesn’t even have to be a femme fatale. But one definite thing about noir: No one is safe. There’s no place to hide in this collection of twelve stories from the dark side of the American Dream. Noir can happen anywhere to anyone who’s just a little greedy, a little too proud, or a little naive. It can happen to a college student working at a steel mill or the chef-owner of an upscale Greek restaurant. Even the most pure of heart can succumb: a correctional officer at a maximum security prison or a father seeking justice. And it’s not always about money, sometimes it’s about power, fame, revenge, payback.”
So here’s a little tease for each story, in author alphabetical order:
Look your Last by Colleen Collins
Location: Denver, Colorado
Story: A young woman follows in the footsteps of her P.I. father who was murdered. She takes on a case that has ties to her father’s murder.
Noir themes: private eye, revenge, fate, the past haunts the present.
Location: rural Massachusetts
Story: An ex-con trying to get on the right track again is persuaded by his brother to help him in a drug scheme.
Noir themes: femme fatale, ex-con trying to reform, family and loved ones can drag you down.
Where I Belong by Alison Gaylin
Location: Hudson Valley, New York
Story: A teenager leaves home after a video of him beating up his stepfather makes him an internet sensation.
Noir themes: outsider, loner, greed, some people are born bad.
Nashua River Floater by Tom MacDonald
Location: Nashua, New Hampshire
Story: A detective is hired under the table by a state trooper to investigate a homicide of a criminal who was recently released from prison. He uncovers some secrets from the past.
Noir themes: private eye, secrets from the past, alcoholism.
On an Eyeball by Andrew McAleer
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Story: A woman C.O. at a high security prison endures sexual harassment in her job. She isn’t happy about it…
Noir themes: femme fatale, sex, revenge is best served cold.
Location: Springfield, Missouri
Story: A reporter for a local radio station looks into the apparent suicide of a young intern at the station who he was having an affair with.
Noir themes: sex, power, corruption, the innocent are sacrificed.
Location: Santa Monica/Venice Beach, California
In 1965, a guy working at the DMV sells information on the side and causes a young woman’s murder. It affects him more than he thought it would…
Noir themes: greed, the innocent are sacrificed, you can't escape fate.
Steel City Blues by Dennis Palumbo
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Story: A young college student works in the local steel plant and finds himself embroiled in a steamy affair with the foreman’s wife. But nothing is quite as it seems.
Noir themes: sex, seduction, greed, femme fatale.
Detour to Dolmades by Stephen D. Rogers
Location: Providence, Rhode Island
Story: The chef-owner of a high-class Greek restaurant is the master of her domain, until she lets her defenses down.
Noir themes: homme fatale, gangsters, pride can bring you down.
Pandora’s Box by John Shepphird
A young college student is seduced into joining a group of grifters in a plot involving the Los Alamos National Laboratory and a Grateful Dead rock concert.
Noir themes: sex, drugs, loss of innocence, a con man luring a young woman into crime.
Sins of the Father by Jaden Terrell
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Story: A former Night Stalker special forces helicopter pilot comes to his daughter’s rescue…
Noir themes: mistakes made in the past, regrets, revenge, redemption.
The Long Road by Dave Zelsterman
Story: A husband can’t remember what happened before he was in a car accident. His wife discourages him from thinking about it, but he won’t leave it alone.
Noir themes: lies, deception, you can never escape your own past.
We also did a Zoom panel with 9 of the 12 authors you might want to check out:
So there you have it. This collection shows that noir can be many different things in many different settings. And, much as I like classic noir films and books, the stories don’t have to have unceasing rain, Venetian blind shadows or flashing neon signs. But I think there is a theme to them and that theme shows up in each of these varied stories.
And now for the usual BSP:
“On one level it’s a mystery where Bobby Saxon, with secrets he wants no one to find out, works to solve a murder and clear his name under extraordinary racially tinged circumstances. With a lot of twists and turns, this is an excellent mystery. It takes place in World War II-era Los Angeles, and the author does a brilliant job that brings the long-gone era alive with memorable characters, scents, descriptions, and most of all, jazz. Highly recommended."