cover image Belgrade Noir

Belgrade Noir

Edited by Milorad Ivanovic. Akashic, $15.95 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-61775-749-5

History haunts Belgrade in this so-so entry in Akashic’s noir series. Two of the stronger selections, Muharem Bazdulj’s “Black Widow, White Russian” and Vladimir Arsenijevic’s “Regarding the Father,” each feature young women seeking revenge on Serbian war criminals responsible for the murder of their parents during the region’s 1990s ethnic conflicts. Events from WWI are central to Dejan Stojiljkovic’s atmospheric “Neon Blues,” in which an ex-cop solves the mystery of a century-old death with the help of a stranger who may be a vampire. Contemporary crime is represented by Kati Heikkapelto’s “An Ad in Vecernje Novosti,” the queasy account of a sexual sadist who takes advantage of a naive middle-aged man and his scheming mother, and by Vesna Goldsworthy’s “How to Pickle a Head of Cabbage,” about a predatory caretaker who systematically hastens the deaths of her elderly charges in order to inherit their Belgrade real estate. Unfortunately, many of the 14 stories, because of their brevity, aren’t well developed. The result is an anthology that has its share of winners but is uneven overall. (Dec.)