cover image Berkeley Noir

Berkeley Noir

Edited by Jerry Thompson and Owen Hill. Akashic, $15.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-61775-797-6

The 16 stories set in Berkeley, Calif., in this above average Akashic noir anthology offer little actual noir but a heaping helping of crime, with almost every entry featuring at least a murder or kidnapping. Highlights include Barry Gifford’s brief but effective “Barroom Butterfly,” a riff on true crime magazines, and Lexi Pandell’s unsettling “Hill House,” in which a journalism grad student house-sits for a famous UC Berkeley professor. In Lucy Jane Bledsoe’s tense “The Tangy Brine of the Dark Night,” a young woman paddles a kayak onto San Francisco Bay to give her dead grandmother a furtive watery burial. Jim Nisbet in “Boy Toy” takes to the bay in a sailboat, but drowns his narrative in more nautical jargon than Moby-Dick. One of the most entertaining selections, Michael David Lukas’s “Dear Fellow Graduates,” takes the form of a high school student’s graduation address that focuses on a teacher’s kidnapping. Readers will be glad that many of these tales are fun in a way that traditional noir isn’t. (May)