Marrakech Noir is one of the recent releases in the fabulous Akashic Noir Series. This time our guest editor is Yassin Adnan who takes us to Marrakech, introducing us to the grim and gritty side of his city. The book is organized into three sections: Hanging Crimes, The Red and the Black, and Outside the City’s Walls. The first section is more familiar in feeling for noir fans. The first story “The Mysterious Painting” is among my favorites, a mystery solved at the dinner table of a restaurant, so clever. I also liked “The Mummy in the Pasha’s House” which is also a fairly traditional mystery told through stories.

The second section, The Red and the Black refers to the idea that Marrakech is a red city, not a noir city, of joy, not crime. Here are stories of corruption and oppression, as well as crime. “Mama Aicha” about a woman advocating for her son’s release from prison just broke my heart and “Delirium” was a powerful story of two people who were linked together forever to their great loss.

The last section, Outside the City’s Walls, explores the outlying area, home to the very poor and new immigrants. “Black Lover” was upsetting, using a racist epithet over and over and over, this was in translation so perhaps in Arabic, the epithet is less fraught, though I doubt it. It was unnecessary to the plot. The best story in this section is “A Person Fit for Murder” told by the murderer as he tries to understand his impulsive act.

Anyone who has followed my book review blog for any length of time is probably aware that I love the Akashic Noir Series. I think these books are great gifts and a completely different approach to armchair travel. I confess I have found Baghdad Noir and Marrakech Noir more difficult than most books in the series. It’s funny because I studied Arabic, though I don’t remember much beyond how to conjugate kataba (to write).

The stories in Marrakech Noir are more satisfying and more familiar, but both are full of stories that give so much backstory on neighbors and others who have very little to do with the plot, the stories are fulsome in their details, introducing people who really are not part of the story except as witnesses. Usually, in short stories, everything is trimmed away, so the fulsomeness is unfamiliar. I still enjoyed the anthology and recommend adding it to your collection of traveling the world on the Noir Express.

I received an e-galley of Marrakech Noir from the publisher through Edelweiss.