Noir and Texas link 14 previously unpublished stories—two first-rate, the rest not bad.
Done to a turn, Claudia Smith’s “Catgirl” is a banality-of-evil story centering on four children, girls, aged about 10, and the charismatic mom of two of them. They’re nice kids. Maybe the mom drinks more than she should, but essentially these are the people next door. What they get up to, however, you wouldn’t want to think of as neighborly. Smith’s prose is controlled, shrewdly understated, and the effect is unsettling and shivery. Milton T. Burton’s “Cherry Coke” is a tricky little tale about a stranger who wanders into a poker game one night. Coke is the kind of player who can’t seem to lose. True enough, he never actually takes a game apart, but at the end of every session he’ll pocket winnings. It’s the kind of thing, of course, that won’t make him universally beloved. Inevitably, there’s a confrontation, a nicely staged climax and a satisfyingly enigmatic ending. As for the remainder, they’re all determinedly noir, including workaday efforts by well-known figures like Joe R. Lansdale and James Crumley. Coeditor Bobby Byrd contributes a story that fills out the card.
Part of a geographically oriented noir fiction anthology series that began in 2004 with Brooklyn Noir and now includes over 40 more, including Miami, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Moscow and Istanbul Noir. Wait for your town.