Black Noir: Mystery, Crime, and Suspense Stories by African-American Writers


The best mystery and crime fiction ever produced by African-American writers.
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The best mystery and crime fiction ever produced by African-American writers.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

As mystery fiction expert Penzler notes in his concise overview of African-American crime writing at the start of this welcome anthology, despite the central element linking the 15 short stories, they "transcend race and genre to fulfill their primary purpose-to inform and entertain." Contributors include expected names like Walter Mosley and Chester Himes, not to mention Robert Greer, Gary Phillips and Eleanor Taylor Bland, as well as writers rescued from obscurity by their inclusion in this mostly reprint volume. Edward P. Jones's "Old Boys, Old Girls" is the standout, a powerful if grim psychological portrait of a man after his imprisonment for murder. Of historical interest are Hughes Allison's "Corollary" (1948), the first story by an African-American to appear in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, and Pauline E. Hopkins's "Talma Gordon" (1900), the first impossible crime tale published by an African-American. (May)

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Kirkus Reviews
Truth in labeling alert: Though all 15 stories veteran anthologist Penzler has collected are by African-American writers, most wouldn't count as noir. Practically all the contents are reprints, some from long ago, but apart from Walter Mosley's "Black Dog" few are likely to be familiar. Generally speaking, the vintage rediscoveries are the best. Although the stories by Pauline E. Hopkins and George S. Schuyler could have been left to rest in peace, Charles W. Chesnutt's "The Sheriff's Children" is unexpectedly touching in its portrait of past sins coming home to roost. Rudolph Fisher's "John Archer's Nose" spins deft complications out of a family-circle killing. Chester Himes's "Strictly Business" captures a lost world of black pulp. Alice Dunbar-Nelson's "Summer Session" turns white slavery into an easygoing anecdote. Ann Petry's "On Saturday the Siren Sounds at Noon" is a mood piece of disturbing power. The contributions by relative newcomers tend to be more professional but less distinctive. Paula L. Woods, Robert Greer and Eleanor Taylor Bland present routine whodunits. The most interesting thing about Gary Phillips's caper gone bad and Gar Anthony Haywood's tale of jealousy and revenge between lifelong friends-turned-enemies is that they really are noir. The standout among the new kids on the block is Edward P. Jones's "Old Boys, Old Girls," which crams a lifetime's worth of jailhouse disillusionment into 30 pages. For all its ups and downs, well worth having for both its treasures from the past and the demonstration of how much vitality this neglected vein of crime fiction reveals.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781605980577
  • Publisher: Pegasus
  • Publication date: 3/3/2009
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 497,973
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Otto Penzler
Otto Penzler is the proprietor of the Mysterious Bookshop in New York City. He is the founder of the Mysterious Press and Otto Penzler Books, and has received an Edgar Award, an Ellery Queen Award, and a Raven Award for his contribution to the mystery field. His anthology The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps was a New York Times Bestseller.
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