cover image Hong Kong Noir

Hong Kong Noir

Edited by Jason Y. Ng and Susan Blumberg-Kason. Akashic, $15.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-61775-672-6

As Ng and Blumberg-Kason note in their introduction to this so-so addition to Akashic’s noir series, the number 14 is “about as bad as it gets in Hong Kong.” The rough equivalent of 13 in the West, it’s pronounced “sup say” in Cantonese. “It sounds like sut sei—must die,” according to Carmen Suen’s unsettling “Fourteen,” in which a poor 12-year-old girl looking for friendship in a public housing estate gets a supernatural shock. Many of the selections are outright ghost stories, such as Ng’s eerie “Ghost of Yulan Past,” about an ethereal presence in a Taoist temple during the Festival of Hungry Ghosts. Only a few amount to crime stories, such as Marshall Moore’s suspenseful “This Quintessence of Dust,” in which a man returns after living years abroad to the island of Cheung Chau, where he grew up, and becomes involved in the family business of disappearing people. Readers will get a fair picture of Hong Kong’s culture and history, though many will wish the volume focused more on crime and less on the otherworldly. (Dec.)