cover image Palm Springs Noir

Palm Springs Noir

Edited by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett. Akashic, $16.95 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-61775-928-4

As the 14 stories in DeMarco-Barrett’s fine noir anthology set in Palm Springs, Calif., and vicinity show, swimming pools are meant for more than leisurely dips, and Frank Sinatra songs are an ever-present soundtrack to the desert landscape of abandoned dreams and broken hearts. Highlights include T. Jefferson Parker’s “Specters,” in which PTSD haunts Iraq war vets; Eric Beetner’s “The Guest,” in which a body in the pool of an Airbnb leads to a series of grisly deaths; and Kelly Shire’s “A Cold Girl,” in which family relations sour after a stripper takes up with a cousin’s boyfriend. Sinatra’s strains are most prominent in J.D. Horn’s unsettling “The Stand-In,” in which an aging actress reminisces about her ties to organized crime decades earlier. When a cat burglar slips in and out of homes in a private community grabbing birth and death certificates in Eduardo Santiago’s slyly comic “The Ankle of Anza,” the “concerned neighbors” take justice into their own hands. It’s rare to find a group of stories without a bad one, but DeMarco-Barrett has chosen well and there’s not a dud in the bunch. (July)