Amsterdam Noir is an excellent addition to the uncommon mystery anthology series Akashic Noir. In this edition, editors René Appel and Josh Pachter selected twenty-two short stories that evoke the noir sensibilities of Amsterdam. They took inspiration from four classic noir films. Out of the Past, Kiss Me Deadly, Touch of Evil, and They Live By Night. What a genius idea!
The four stories in Out of the Past are rooted in past experiences, of war, marriage, grief, and even a long-ago murder. I thought they were all strong stories but particularly loved Spui 13. The next section, Kiss Me Deadly, has three stories of love, though Silent Days is not about romantic love at all, but the kind of sisterhood that can make a woman defend another woman she doesn’t even know because she wants to do something to be proud of. A Touch of Evil has four stories and three are clearly representations of evil’s malignancy, but Lucky Sevens strikes me differently. A woman is murdered and that is evil, but the killer is not a central character. The last section, They Lived by Night, has four stories. I thought The Girl at the End of the Line was haunting and beautifully done.
I loved Amsterdam Noir and think its selection of stories was excellent and the way they were organized was a stroke of genius. There were a few stories that were not as strong as the rest and oddly, the weakest story was Starry, Starry Night by the co-editors. I suppose there had to be some tie-in to Van Gogh somewhere, but having a guy named Vincent get his ear slashed by muggers is not it. I appreciated the sly effort, but it turned out to sound like something they concocted during a beer-addled, and-then-we-can conversation.
I received an e-galley of Amsterdam Noir from the publisher through Edelweiss