cover image Houston Noir

Houston Noir

Edited by Gwendolyn Zepeda. Akashic, $15.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-61775-706-8

Although some of the 14 short stories in this solid Akashic noir anthology are not city specific, most make the Houston setting central to their narratives. Zepeda’s introduction notes her hometown’s unique features, including the absence of any zoning laws, making Houston “culturally diverse, internally incongruous, and ever-changing.” Its status as a port city and an economy buoyed by conventions and sporting events have combined to make Houston a human trafficking hub, which comes into play in the volume’s most chilling entry, Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton’s “Where the Ends Meet.” That tale centers on the moral slippage of an unemployed deliveryman desperate to earn a living, who finds casting aside any vestiges of conscience all too easy. The transformation of an average, decent person into something else is also at the heart of Adrienne Perry’s “One in the Family,” another highlight. However, some tales, such as Anton DiSclafani’s memorable “Tangled,” in which a devoted mother seeks justice for her daughter who’s a victim of spousal abuse, could have taken place in any city. Noir aficionados will be pleased. (May)