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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Department of Book Reports: Local Noir

Here's a nifty duo of short story collections: Seattle Noir, edited by Curt Colbert and Portland Noir, edited by Kevin Sampsell. These are part of a series of "City Noir" by Akashic Books ($15.95 each) that includes locales such as Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Chicago. Edited by a local crime-writer, they include the best of the region's writers and give you a great tour of that town.

Curt Colbert is the author of the Jake Rossiter 1940s private detective series, that has been nominated for a Shamus Award. Jake and Miss Jenkins appearance here in a tale of domestic case has a fitting finale for a double-crossing couple. Skye Moody brings the tale of a dwarf actor, who fears he is growing taller, too tall to keep getting the movie roles that have supported him so far. Kathleen Acala's Blue Sunday has a Iraqi vet, who crosses paths with a bad cop in Seattle's Central District. R. Barri Flower's The Wrong End of a Gun is set in South Lake Union, and has another case of deception, which ends badly for all.
Within the stories of Seattle Noir, you will find: a wealthy couple whose marriage is filled with not-so-quiet desperation; a credit card scam that goes over-limit; femmes fatales and hommes fatales; a delicatessen owner whose case is less than kosher; a famous midget actor whose movie roles begin to shrink when he starts growing taller; an ex-cop who learns too much; a group of mystery writers whose fiction causes friction; a Native American shaman caught in a web of secrets and tribal allegiances; sex, lies, and slippery slopes . . . and a cast of characters that always want more, not less . . . unless . . .

Curt was interviewed on Seattle's KUOW NPR station recently.

Kevin Sampsell, a bookstore employee, small press publisher and author of Creamy Bullets has pulled together a stunning collection, befitting the town. Bookstores figure prominently here and Chris A. Boulton uses Powell's City of Books security measures to elude murderous cops in The Red Room. Jess Walter has the story of a newspaper editor's spiral into psychological deception via the horoscope column in Virgo. One of my favorite entries is the graphic novelette, Gone Doggy Gone by Jamie S. Rich and Joelle Jones. Jonathan Selwood's The Wrong House has a small time break-in gone terribly wrong.
I do want to quote the editor for this line, which really made me smirk: "If Portland was once Seattle's kid nephew in the past, these days it's more like Seattle is Portland's creepy old uncle."
Portland Noir is an encompassing literary journey where your tour guides take you to the Shanghai Tunnels, dog parks, dive bars, sex shops, Powell's Books, Voodoo Doughnuts, suspiciously quiet neighborhoods, the pseudo-glitzy Pearl District, Oaks Amusement Park, and a strip club shaped like a jug. Violent crime, petty mischief, and personal tragedy run through these mysterious tales that careen through this cloudy, wet city. Portland Noir is sure to both charm and frighten readers familiar with this northwest hub and intrigue those who have never traveled to this proudly weird city.

You'll have to read both volumes to determine which is the seediest city.

Also: we've finally been able to get the paperback edition of Jeff Sharlett's The Family:The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. We have a couple extra copies, and will be able to order more now. This is a much talked about topic right now, and Sharlett's book is not to be missed.


  1. Dear Ms. SeattleTammy:

    Is there a "Tremonton, UT Noir" in the works?

  2. I think the General is editing one, Demo, under the nom de plume, Knuckles Karnovsky Young. But I could be wrong about the name.

  3. On the 64th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, essayist Daniel Bruno Sanz has written a unique piece about the nuclear arms race and the Black experience on film:

    You may post it on your website and follow us at

    Here are the Keywords:
    5ive, Adolf Hitler, African-American Poetry, Al-Queda, Albert Einstein, Arch Oboler, Carl Sagan, Charles Bronson, Charles Lampkin, Cosmos, Douglass Macarthur, Elizabeth Montgomery, Emperor Hirohito, Enrico Fermi, Fahrenhei 451, Fat Man, Five, Francois Truffaut, Frank Lloyd Wright, Genesis, Gyokuon-Hoso, H.G. Welles, Harry Truman, Hiroshima, James Anderson, James Weldon Johnson, Julius Rosenberg, Klaus Fuchs, Lavrentii Beria, Leo Szilard, Lord Of The Flies, Los Ultimos Cinco, Manchuria, Manhattan Project, Mao Tse-Tung, Martini Movies, Mokusatsu, Mulholland Highway, Nagasaki, Nietzsche, North Korea, Nuclear Holocaust, On The Beach, Orson Welles, Pearl Harbor, Potsdam Declaration, Reagan, Red Army, Rod Serling, Schopenhauer, Semipalatinsk, Stalin, Stepin Fetchit, Suzuki Kantaro, Taliban, The Day After, The Day The World Ended, Twilight Zone, Uranium Fission, Variety Magazine, Will Smith, Wille Zur Macht, William Golding, William Phipps, Living News

                                            Bad Dreams From My Grandfather

    A specter is haunting the United States: the specter of nuclear attack without nuclear war.  In Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Iran, Pakistan and North Korea, capable state and shadowy non-state actors contemplate flattening an American city with a device smuggled into the United States at 100 possible ports of entry.  It would have no return address.  The scenarios of holocaust are many and multiply with the advance of technology and the Information Age.  What will this lead to?

    1939 was an exciting year in both physics and science fiction.  Uranium fission was discovered, fantastic novels and films by Orson Welles and H.G.Wells were popular and academic journals, newspapers and magazines openly discussed atomic energy. However, most American physicists were skeptical that atomic energy could actually be harnessed and there was no atomic research outside of obscure university laboratories.  But Budapest born physicist Leo Szilard, a protégé of Einstein and recent arrival to the United States, knew Germany was dedicated to developing the bomb and was alarmed that the sale of uranium ore from Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia had been halted.  He was deeply troubled by the prospect of a Nazi atomic bomb and the lack of American effort to match German research.


We'll try dumping haloscan and see how it works.