Bold travelers always want to go where the locals hang out, wanting to see past the usual tourist route that is programmed to keep them on a pristine path with never a touch of noir. But of course, if you never stray from the antiseptic path, you never see the real city. I think if I were traveling somewhere, in addition to the guide books to the official sites, i would search for an Akashic Noir series for that city, to give myself a taste of the grit and noir. St. Louis Noir by Scott Phillips is an introduction to the noir of that notoriously broken city.

Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb, exploded on the national consciousness with the murder of Michael Brown and the subsequent Department of Justice report detailing the exploitation of its citizens by using the police to finance city services with abusive over-policing and policies that impoverished its citizen. It makes sense, then, that race play a central role in many of the short stories in St. Louis Noir. 

Philips selected a great collection of stores that reinforce his view that St. Louis as a blend of high and low art, culture and society. There are rich, successful criminals and poor and hapless criminals. There’s wealth and poverty. The dichotomies are painful.

My favorite stories were Abandoned Places by S. L. Coney, a story of a young boy whose father has disappeared, staying with his dad’s girlfriend in uncertainty, fear and despair. It broke my heart into so many pieces I had to set the book aside for a day before I could approach it again. Another great story is Fool’s Luck by LaVelle Wilkins-Chinn, another story that reaching deep inside and squeezes.

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I have rows of Akashic Noir books in my bookshelves, so I expected to enjoy St. Louis Noir and of course I did. The only problem is I came to the last page and wanted more, more, more. There were several great stories and poetry that represent the city in its duality. I love short stories, I love mysteries, I love reading about other places. Akashic Noir’s series brings them all together inside one book.

St. Louis Noir will be released next week on August 2nd. I was provided a e-galley of St. Louis Noir by the publisher through Edelweiss.

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