KANSAS CITY NOIR

The Akashic noir steamroller, now 56 titles strong, pulls up to Kansas City.

What about Kansas City says noir? Half of these 14 new stories leave this question a mystery because they reveal so little about the city. Oddly, it’s the shorter stories that are more steeped in local atmosphere. Linda Rodriguez’s retired hero crosses a line to protect his South Troost neighborhood from gangs and lives to regret it. Nancy Pickard shows traumatic childhood memories of the Paseo casting a long shadow over a woman in faraway Detroit. Mitch Brian provides a slight but evocative account of the last night before a movie theater goes dark. Daniel Woodrell traces the murderous arc of a female who tears up the city and feasts on the resulting headlines. Phong Nguyen imagines an episode built around a real-life 19th-century political fixer, and Andrés Rodríguez devises a more mysterious end for the famous owner of Milton’s Tap Room. In the most routine of the stories, Nadia Pflaum explains why you can’t get good Kansas City barbecue anymore. The other entries aren’t any less successful, just more indeterminate in their time and place. Matthew Eck’s hero and heroine, children of serial killers, meet at a convention in a town that just happens to be Kansas City. John Lutz spins a tart variation on Thelma and Louise that could have followed any mean streets. Same thing with Kevin Prufer’s tale of a sick cop on the trail of an even sicker killer, or Catherine Browder’s cop accidentally shot during a quarrel with her lesbian live-in. Hard-used heroes and heroines seem to live a lifetime in the stories of J. Malcolm Garcia, Grace Suh and Philip Stephens. What these tales lack in geographic specificity they make up in lived experience; each one seems almost novelistic in scope. Half novels-in-waiting, half journalistic anecdotes that are equally likely to appeal to Kansas City boosters and strangers.

 

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-61775-128-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Akashic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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An anodyne visit with Tricia and her friends and enemies hung on a thin mystery.

A KILLER EDITION

Too much free time leads a New Hampshire bookseller into yet another case of murder.

Now that Tricia Miles has Pixie Poe and Mr. Everett practically running her bookstore, Haven’t Got a Clue, she finds herself at loose ends. Her wealthy sister, Angelica, who in the guise of Nigela Ricita has invested heavily in making Stoneham a bookish tourist attraction, is entering the amateur competition for the Great Booktown Bake-Off. So Tricia, who’s recently taken up baking as a hobby, decides to join her and spends a lot of time looking for the perfect cupcake recipe. A visit to another bookstore leaves Tricia witnessing a nasty argument between owner Joyce Widman and next-door neighbor Vera Olson over the trimming of tree branches that hang over Joyce’s yard—also overheard by new town police officer Cindy Pearson. After Tricia accepts Joyce’s offer of some produce from her garden, they find Vera skewered by a pitchfork, and when Police Chief Grant Baker arrives, Joyce is his obvious suspect. Ever since Tricia moved to Stoneham, the homicide rate has skyrocketed (Poisoned Pages, 2018, etc.), and her history with Baker is fraught. She’s also become suspicious about the activities at Pets-A-Plenty, the animal shelter where Vera was a dedicated volunteer. Tricia’s offered her expertise to the board, but president Toby Kingston has been less than welcoming. With nothing but baking on her calendar, Tricia has plenty of time to investigate both the murder and her vague suspicions about the shelter. Plenty of small-town friendships and rivalries emerge in her quest for the truth.

An anodyne visit with Tricia and her friends and enemies hung on a thin mystery.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0272-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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Joe’s fifth case is his best balanced, most deeply felt and most mystifying to date: an absolute must.

OUT OF RANGE

Crime-fighting Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett outdoes himself during a temporary transfer from sleepy Saddlestring to fashionable Jackson Hole.

Will Jensen, the Jackson game warden, was a great guy and a model warden, but once his wife left him six months ago, he spiraled into madness and suicide, and now Joe’s been called to replace him. The transition is anything but smooth. There’s no question of Joe’s family coming with him, so he’s reduced to hoping he can get a signal for the cell-phone calls he squeezes into his busy schedule. En route to his new posting, Joe has to pursue a marauding grizzly. He arrives to meet a formidable series of challenges. Cantankerous outfitter Smoke Van Horn wants to go on attracting elk with illegal salt licks without the new warden’s interference. Animal Liberation Network activist Pi Stevenson wants him to publicize her cause and adopt a vegan diet. Developer Don Ennis wants to open a housing development for millionaires who like their meat free of additives. Ennis’s trophy wife Stella simply wants Joe—and he wants her back. As he wrestles with these demands, and with a supervisor riled over Joe’s track record of destroying government property in pursuit of bad guys (Trophy Hunt, 2004, etc.), Joe slowly becomes convinced that Will did not kill himself.

Joe’s fifth case is his best balanced, most deeply felt and most mystifying to date: an absolute must.

Pub Date: May 5, 2005

ISBN: 0-399-15291-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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