cover image Milwaukee Noir

Milwaukee Noir

Edited by Tim Hennessy. Akashic, $15.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-61775-701-3

Milwaukee bookseller and writer Hennessy does justice to the harsher aspects of his hometown in this fine anthology, which demolishes what he calls “the romanticized nostalgia that Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley created of Milwaukee.” The 14 contributors show that violence is not a prerequisite to crafting a haunting depiction of despair. The volume’s standout, Matthew J. Prigge’s “3rd Street Waltz,” about the last days of a decrepit porn theater, barely involves crime at all. By making the theater’s closure a business decision by an amoral heir to the family real estate business, Prigge conveys the crushed spirits resulting from inner-city neglect without moralizing. Reed Farrel Coleman is typically on-point with a memorable revenge tale, “Summerfest ’76,” featuring a once unresponsive bystander to anti-Semitism. Nick Petrie’s moody “The Neighbor” charts the feelings of a man who meticulously cares for his lawn about his neighbor who does the opposite. The selections make the different neighborhoods, seedy or otherwise, come to life, even for those who have never set foot in them. This is one of the better entries in Akashic’s noir series. (May)