Appel and Pachter take an unexpected turn as they explore Amsterdam’s dark side.
In spotlighting a city known worldwide for sex workers and marijuana, the editors avoid the obvious. Instead, they divide their volume into four sections named for four films noirs. “Out of the Past” features crimes with deep roots, like Anneloes Timmerije’s “Spui 13.” Based on a true story, it follows a woman who returns to Amsterdam to buy the house she lived in when she was younger, with disastrous results. “Kiss Me Deadly” presents three tales of love gone wrong, including Christine Otten’s “Soul Mates,” another true-crime story. “Touch of Evil” offers a look at villains ranging from the pedestrian to the extreme. A policeman appropriates his neighbor’s lottery ticket in Theo Capel’s “Lucky Sevens”; a young man makes a deal with the Prince of Darkness himself in Mensje van Keulen’s “Devil’s Island.” And the focus of “They Live by Night” on Amsterdam’s marginalized communities is perhaps represented by Walter van den Berg’s “Get Rich Quick,” in which two aspiring young gangsters borrow a gun to rob a Muslim hawala bank.
Taking the road less traveled is a winning strategy for the editors. The 15 dark takes they’ve collected provide a variety of methods, motives, and menace, while their movie-themed chapters anchor the varied menu firmly in the noir tradition.