BERLIN NOIR  by Thomas Wörtche


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A city with a rich noir past looks beyond its history to an equally unsettling present.

As editor Wörtche acknowledges, “Noir tradition casts a long, influential, and even daunting shadow” over Berlin. But most of the 13 stories are rooted firmly in the present. Michael Wuliger’s “Kaddish for Lazar” is the only tale to mention, even in passing, the Nazi era. And Rob Alef’s “Dog Tag Afternoon” chronicles the death, at age 96, of one of the American pilots who flew the Berlin airlift. Otherwise, the stories focus on 21st-century misery. A band of Nigerian immigrants torments a not-entirely-innocent victim in “Local Train,” by Max Annas. A family struggles to deal with their mentally ill sister in Zoë Beck’s haunting “Dora.” A depressed artist becomes an accessory to crime in Miron Zownir’s “Overtime.” And in Ute Cohen’s “Valverde,” a boy toy takes his revenge on a quintet of rich bitches. Even seemingly innocent contemporary pleasures provide a platform for mischief. In Susanne Saygin’s “The Beauty of Kenilworth Ivy,” a vigilante finds Airbnb the perfect means of locating prey. A gang of clueless volunteers who run a co-op watering spot cope with a body stashed in their freezer in Robert Rescue’s “One of These Days.” And in “Fashion Week,” Katja Bohnet shows that even the glittering annual couture fest can lead to mayhem.

Wörtche keeps his promise to show Berlin as “always moving forward in the present” in this determinedly contemporary but genuinely noir collection.

Pub Date: May 7th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-61775-632-0
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Akashic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2019