cover image Dark Crimes Two: Modern Masters of Noir

Dark Crimes Two: Modern Masters of Noir

. Carroll & Graf Publishers, $22.95 (464pp) ISBN 978-0-88184-865-6

This uneven collection of crime stories and thrillers is worth having for its inclusion of Triangle , the stunning 1982 short novel by Teri White. This Edgar winner traces the trajectory of a trio of lowlifes: a pair of Vietnam war vets who have become a highly successful underworld assassination squad, and an obsessed cop whose partner they have killed. White displays a brilliant sense of character, an accurate ear for colloquial speech and a sure control of tone in this early work. The rest of the pieces here vary in quality . Several of the featured detectives (and their authors) are familiar--such as Marcia Muller's Sharon McCone, here investigating an apparent suicide, and Loren Estleman's Amos Walker, faced with the murder of clients who wanted to renovate an old saloon. There is a cunning John Lutz tale about an ill-fated Mexican cliff-diver and a wry Lawrence Block inversion of It's a Wonderful Life , in which a man who survives a murder attempt realizes that he has to be nicer. But most of the offerings, such as those by David Morrell and Joe R. Lansdale, rely too much on twist endings or sickening violence, and lack the elegant fatalism and shadow-drenched angst of the film noir. (Jan.)