“Montreal has always been a popular destination for Americans,” write McFetridge and Filippi, “though it’s definitely nothing like America.” These 15 new stories celebrate the differences between us and our northern neighbor.
As in any good noir, poverty, drugs, and despair cloud many of the characters’ lives. But even the stories about druggies have a certain je ne sais quoi. In Samuel Archibald’s “Three Tshakapesh Dreams,” the undercover cop trying to solve a heroin addict’s murder struggles with nighttime visions fueled by his grandfather’s battles with a black bear. And the homeless men in Michel Basilières’s “The Haunted Crack House” were once artists. Murderers also have their own cachet. Max, the hero of Howard Shrier’s “Milk Teeth,” searches for a young girl’s killer among the champions of professional wrestling. Danger lurks among aspiring writers in Johanne Seymour’s spooky “Journal of an Obsession.” And a celebrity harbors a secret in Geneviève Lefebvre’s “Such a Pretty Little Girl.” Homage is also paid to the old ways. Patrick Senécal’s “Rush Hour” features one of the last traffic reporters to assess the streets by car. And Hope Sze, the modern heroine of Melissa Yi’s “The Sin Eaters,” finds solace in a venerable Yiddish proverb. Even the stock characters of noirdom—mobsters and hit men—offer novel takes on crime in Peter Kirby’s “The Crap Magnet” and Robert Pobi’s “Poppa.”
Whether it’s the quirkiness of the characters, the ingenuity of the puzzles, or the big hearts inside some of the darkest villains, noir’s different north of the border. Here’s hoping readers will say “Vive la difference.”