Monday, 11 March 2019

JOHN DALE (ed.) - SYDNEY NOIR (AKASHIC NOIR SERIES) (2019)



Synopsis/blurb.....

Akashic Books continues its award-winning series of original noir anthologies, launched in 2004 with Brooklyn Noir. Each book comprises all new stories, each one set in a distinct neighborhood or location within the respective city.

Brand-new stories by: Kirsten Tranter, Mandy Sayer, John Dale, Eleanor Limprecht, Mark Dapin, Leigh Redhead, Julie Koh, Peter Polites, Robert Drewe, Tom Gilling, Gabrielle Lord, Philip McLaren, P.M. Newton, and Peter Doyle.

From John Dale's introduction to the book:

Nothing lasts in Sydney, especially good fortune: lives are upturned, shops are sold, roads dug up, trees and houses knocked down, premiers discarded, and entire communities relocated in the name of that economic mantra--growth and progress. Just when you think the traffic can't get any worse and the screech of the 747s descending over your roof can't get any louder, along comes a wild electrical storm that batters the buildings and shakes the power lines and washes the garbage off the streets and you stand, sheltered under your broken brolly in the center of Sydney, admiring this big beautiful city.

What never changes, though, is the hustle on the street. My father was a detective in the vice squad shortly after the Second World War, and he told stories of busting SP bookies in Paddington and Surry Hills, collaring cockatoos stationed in the laneways of South Sydney, and arresting sly-groggers. Policing back then was hands-on for the poor and hands-off for the rich. Crime and Sydney have always been inseparable: a deep vein of corruption runs beneath the surface of even its most respectable suburbs.

My second visit to to one of Akashic's city set Noir series, after reading Dublin Noir in the days before I started recording my reading thoughts - so sometime before 2010 then.

Sydney this time around and having expressed an admiration and enjoyment of Australian crime fiction in the past, with hat tips to Garry Disher, Andrew Nette, Iain Ryan, Dave Warner, Brian Stoddart, Blair Denholm and more, I thought I would give this one a bash.

A few familiar names - John Dale (read him back in the late 90s/early 00s - Dark Angel and The Dogs are Barking), P.M. Newton (TBR pile), Leigh Redhead (TBR pile), Tom Gilling (ditto), Peter Doyle (ditto) - and a fair few unfamiliar - and one somewhere in-between i.e. I've heard of Mark Dapin before.

Here we have.........

Introduction

John Dale - City of Change

PART I: FAMILY MATTERS

Kirsten Tranter - The Passenger (Balmain)....... a hard-hitting tale of child abuse, photographs, pornography, possibly more, enabled by a dysfunctional family dynamic, drugs, a missing person, and murder. A tough read.

Mandy Sayer - The Birthday Present (Kings Cross)...... some father and son bonding, a history lesson and a passing on of the reins.

John Dale - Good Boy, Bad Girl (Newtown)...... priority number one, looking after family, whatever it takes

Eleanore Limprecht - In the Dunes (Maroubra)..... a girl struggling with a hidden pregnancy, a dead mother, a distracted father, pain, fear, loneliness

Mark Dapin - In the Court of the Lion King (La Perouse)..... prison, the long game, revenge

PART II: SEX AND THE CITY

Leigh Redhead - The Transmutation of Sex (Parramatta)..... sex, desire, connection, ambition, moving on

Julie Koh - The Patternmaker (Ashfield)........ ambition, delusion,

Peter Polites - Toxic Nostalgia (Bankstown)....... friendship, blackmail, death, an attempt at payback

Robert Drewe - The Razor (Lavender Bay)...... swimming, Olympic ambitions, an athlete, a wife, a mother-in-law, a razor, familial complications, repeat

PARTIII: CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Tom Gilling - Rip-Off (Sydney Harbour)....... a taxi ride, drugs, a rip-off, a confrontation, an outcome

Gabrielle Lord - Slow Burn (Clovelly)........ fishing friends, a family plan, a long game, an opportunity, justice (of sort)

Philip McLaren - Black Cul-De-Sac (Redfern)....... race, football, a death, an investigation, a settlement

P.M. Newton Chinaman's Beach (Mosman)..... a criminal family, a death of a son, some marital strain

Peter Doyle - Good Bloke (Edgecliff) ....... drugs, addiction, recovery, a business, betrayal


Overall I really enjoyed this collection, with probably only one story that didn't really work for me. There a lot of darkness contained in these pages ..... criminality, drugs, sex - gay, vanilla and underage, pornography, pregnancy, childbirth, blackmail, murder, ambition, prison, family loyalty, family betrayal, plenty of revenge and payback. My kind of stories.

I liked the Sydney setting and was interested in the various locations, a lot of which were unfamiliar to me.

Favourites - P.M. Newton, Gabrielle Lord, Robert Drewe and Eleanor Liprecht. I've definitely got the taste for more Australian crime fiction this year.

4.5 from 5

Read - February, 2019
Published - 2019
Page count - 250
Source - Edelweiss Above the Treeline early reviewer site
Format - ePub file read on laptop

7 comments:

  1. I've been hearing about this collection, Col, and wondering what it was like. I'm very glad you enjoyed it as much as you did. A few authors whose work I like, too.

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    1. It is a great anthology, Margot. I hope you find the time to read it.

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  2. It's an interesting series. I've had a copy of Providence Noir for a while and really ought to get to it. I offered to put together a Fantasy Noir volume for them, but they weren't having it. :(

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    1. Agreed. I might try another one or two in the run, but not much more than that. I'd be more than surprised if anyone could keep up with them all.
      It might have shaken the series up a bit if they had taken you up on the offer. Why don't you do one anyway? They can't hold a copyright over the title surely?

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    2. It's a matter of First find a publisher . . .

      Publishers are leery of anthologies in general, which is why most of them come out from small presses. (You know all this anyway, but I'm thinking out loud, sorta thing.) Akashic has scored a success with this series, but it'd be tricky for another publisher of even modest size to gamble on a one-off volume.

      If that makes sense. I've been pounding away at the keyboard all day, so I'm a bit crosseyed right now.

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