I think it is obvious I love the Akashic Noir series. I have pulled a few off my shelves from several years back to read again. The most recent one I have reread is Manhattan Noir 2: The Classics edited by Lawrence Block. He also edited the first Manhattan Noir. What makes the classics different from the regular releases in the series is that rather than asking contemporary authors to write new fiction for the anthology, Block mined the past, incorporating stories from Edith Wharton, Stephen Crane, and even a poem from Edgar Allen Poe.

As with all the Noir series, the stories take place in Manhattan though Poe’s The Raven may be a bit of a stretch since its location is not mentioned. However, it does take place in Poe’s writing study and he did live for a time in Manhattan, so Block lets it count. In fact, Block includes three poets in his collection.

Among the authors are the classic short story stylist O’Henry and the always exceptional Joyce Carol Oates, there’s Stephen Crane cheek by jowl with Donald Westlake next to Susan Isaacs. That is what makes these anthologies so strong.


Manhattan Noir 2: The Classics is another outstanding edition to the wonderful collection of noir short stories from Akashic Books. I did not love every story, of course. The story by Jerrold Mundis was the one I most disliked. It was well written, but it just made me unhappy. You know, sometimes people are just awful and even carefully crafted stories are made awful by the people in them. It would not have upset me so much if it were poorly done.

You know, Christmas is coming and for your friends who are readers and mystery lovers, Akashic Noir books are an excellent gift. Short story anthologies with multiple authors are good gifts for readers. There’s always so many different writers, several are bound to please.