Tampa Bay Noir is an excellent addition to the Akashic Noir series of anthologies. Each edition of this series is edited by a local, usually an author, a bookseller, or book critic. In this edition, the editor is Colette Bancroft, the book editor at the Tampa Bay Times. She was an excellent choice. She selected fifteen stories in four sections, one focuses on suburbia, another on grifters, one with crimes on the water, and the last are family stories.
I loved the sort of Florida Man aesthetic of “Triggerfish Lane.” I have always liked Lisa Unger and her story “Only You” is very compelling with the fantasy of coming back to your home town as a huge success coming true, but in a nightmarish way. “Local Waters” gives us the story of the hapless substitute teacher with the vicious high school bully, a truly relatable antihero.
Tampa Bay Noir is an excellent anthology. Bancroft did not try to expand the definition of noir but let it reside in the mystery and suspense genres that welcome the noir sensibility. I generally like every book in this series, but vastly prefer the ones that stay true to noir’s roots.
I liked every story and they all fit the theme. I was irritated by “Jackknife” by Danny López, enough that I had to put the book down for a couple of days before coming back to finish the story. I am sick to death of the whine that police are unfairly punished for killing unarmed suspects and when the former cop explains he was found to have followed procedure but was fired because someone had to be punished, I just stopped reading for a few days. It has always been a lie and it is still a lie. Even with video, John Crawford’s murderer was not even charged. That story is redeemed by its ending, so I guess it was effective in making the character feel real.
Again, the Akashic Noir series is a reliable series of noir stories. I think they are great gifts. If you know someone is going to visit Tampa Bay, give them this book rather than Lonely Planet. If you know someone from Tampa, then this would be a great gift, too. If you know someone who is into mystery and suspense, likewise a great gift. If people are unable to concentrate thanks to the COVID brain fog or generalized anxiety, short stories are something they can read. Really, you can hardly go wrong.
I received an e-galley of Tampa Bay Noir from the publisher through Edelweiss