cover image Baghdad Noir

Baghdad Noir

Edited by Samuel Shimon. Akashic, $15.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-61775-343-5

Most of the 14 stories in this worthy addition to Akashic’s noir series—many translated from the Arabic, others written in English—are set in Baghdad after the 2003 American invasion of Iraq. Leading the pack is Sinan Antoon’s “Jasim’s File.” Reminiscent of Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island in its brash ambiguity, it charts the narrator’s obsessive efforts to solve a crime after returning home from a horrid stay in a psych ward. Another standout is Salar Abdoh’s “Baghdad on Borrowed Time,” in which a detective, who draws inspiration from the work of Dashiel Hammett and Raymond Chandler, takes on a client who challenges him with the taunt, “Catch me please.” Salima Salih’s “The Apartment,” set during the Saddam era, twists the noir genre into a knot as two women seek to solve the bludgeoning murder of an elderly aunt found in her kitchen with only a pile of ash as a clue. Some selections fall flat, but this anthology’s status as perhaps the first collection of Iraqi crime fiction ever published makes it a landmark. (Aug.)