There's been a murder at a Mumbai spice market, the corpse's fingers sunset-stained with turmeric and saffron. A grisly discovery on a Copenhagen beach sends Danish police scurrying for answers. A woman with eyes like warnings and a terrible secret walks into a Pittsburgh P.I.'s office and won't be denied...
If you love the grit, grime and sultry sweat of a good piece of noir fiction, the Akashic Noir series is for you. Akashic Books is an independent publisher based in Brooklyn, and begun by musician Johnny Temple, the former bassist for long-running post-hardcore band Girls Against Boys. Temple founded Akashic Books in 1996, with the goal of publishing shining writing stars who might otherwise go overlooked, particularly in the arenas of urban literary fiction and political non-fiction.
Akashic had a surprise blessing in 2011, when they published Go the F*ck to Sleep, a "children's book for adults" by Adam Mansbach and illustrated by Ricardo Cortes. The book is a spoof of tender-hearted, loving poems from parents to infants, but in the voice of an exhausted, frustrated parent at wits' end, begging their infant to please, for the love of God, just go to sleep. The book went viral unintentionally, when advance PDF copies of the text were leaked, shared, and became a big hit. Akashic, which were suddenly in the spotlight, credit social media with the book's intense popularity.
The Akashic Noir series began in 2004 with the first book, called simply "Brooklyn Noir". Edited by Brooklyn-based novelist Tim McLoughlin (author of the critically-acclaimed Heart of the Old Country, and adapted to the film The Narrows in 2008), Brooklyn Noir is a series of 19 new pieces of short noir fiction, set in different Brooklyn neighborhoods. Spanning every age group, social status, class level, gender and ethnicity, this selection of stories vibrates and hums with the authentic underground buzz of Brooklyn. McLoughlin - who was also a contributor to the collection with his offering, When All This Was Bay Ridge - was clearly meticulous about maintaining the genuine article in his selection process. The collection earned so much attention and acclaim that it became the first in a series, that has now expanded - so far - to include over 50 titles in locales criss-crossing the globe. It seems the incorporation of familiar, well-known locations with excellent writing and plot is a winning combination that readers can't resist. Those who have stepped into the ring to edit the collections run the gamut from little-known talents to big names like Joyce Carol Oates and Dennis Lehane.
Enjoy a selection of excellent noir fiction from around the globe below.