American Noir

Written by Barry Forshaw

Review written by Ayo Onatade

Ayo Onatade is an avid reader of crime and mystery fiction. She has been writing reviews, interviews and articles on the subject for the last 12 years; with an eclectic taste from historical to hardboiled, short stories and noir films


American Noir
Pocket Essentials
RRP: £9.99
Released: April 27 2017
PBK

American Noir is the latest book in what is now becoming an essential series of reference works for the crime fiction aficionado; be they a casual reader or someone looking for deeper insights into the genre.

This time renowned literary critic and commentator Barry Forshaw (who is most associated with European literature, film and music) traverses the Atlantic. Tackling American Noir was never going to be an easy journey but the author has managed it with aplomb; a sense of insider knowledge, but he does so playfully.

The term “Noir” is used in the broadest of definitions covering not only literature but also film and television drama with a critical eye.  This volume also contains a number of interviews with authors that make this book prescient; a particular delight being Forshaw’s dialogue with James Ellroy.

Forshaw’s work is also useful to remind readers of lesser known authors, and authors that for some – are forgotten – all interspersed with the bestselling names. It was good to see authors that are less well known in Europe than on their native shores - such as Victor Gischler, Charlie Huston, Chris Holm, Lisa Lutz and Naomi Hirahara (to name a few).

American Noir is not only a book to dip into, but also to read from cover to cover if one is seeking a primer on this important area of crime fiction.

Barry Forshaw should be commended for bravery for he also includes a list of what he considers the top thirty of the best contemporary US crime novels. This listing acts as an interesting talking point, but also useful for debate, as well as for checking against our own bookcases.

The only downside is the concise nature of the volume, though judicious editing makes it insightful without having too much baggage to weigh down the proceedings.

In a word - ‘Essential’ 




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