South Central Noir is a spectacular addition to the Akashic Noir Series. Here’s the thing. I always know each volume in the Noir Series will be interesting and enjoyable, but some locations simply are more noir than others. In some places, noir is not even a genre and must be explained by the editor, and the stories, while still interesting, miss the mark a bit. But what can be more noir than South Central?

I also want to thank editor Gary Phillips for writing the most noir introduction of the series. Noir does not explain. Noir has the confidence to just put it out there with a nice, short introduction without any justification for his choices other than he made them.

He knew what he was doing. Not one of the fourteen stories bored or disappointed me. Some were truly superb. Haint in the Window by Tananarive Due was particularly inventive. Besides, I always love stories in bookstores. I also loved Mae’s Family Dining by Penny Mickelbury about a woman, a restaurant, and some very bad cops. How Hope Found Chauncey by Jervey Tervalon was heartbreaking but still so rich in the love of friendship.

I can just about guarantee that I will love an Akashic Noir book. They are a completely different kind of armchair traveling, giving us a gritty, and probably more realistic view of a place we’ve never been. South Central Noir succeeds on all fronts, as good stories and as a unique insight to a place I have never been.

I received an ARC of South Central Noir from the publisher through LibraryThing.