In its favor is diversity and an impressive 23 stories. The return of some of the "unusual suspects" -- Roche himself; Bill Brent and his character Dick Death, punk detective; Lucy Taylor; M. Christian; Carol Queen, and others -- is welcome. Some outstanding additions to the gang this time around are Brian Hodge's look at the really dark side of Hollywood, Caitlin Kiernan with a steamy New Orleans setting, Mason Powell's L.A. noir, and Charles Ardai's violent, yet seductive John Woo-world.
Much of Noirotica's impact lay in its literary cohesiveness: there was not only a palpable truth to the fiction, but there was also a redemptive quality in the stories that is essential to noir. In noir, sex, death, and crime have consequences. Actions have reactions. The stories of Noirotica 2 don't all live up to this standard. At the same time, Noirotica 2 has more of a "pulp" feel -- that slightly sick, but fun feel of fiction that's not quite as serious as it could be.
As I warned before, this stuff is not for everyone and even those who can take it may prefer another aspect of the mix. Part of noir is also sheer entertainment and perhaps in this respect, the second volume works better than the first. Noirotica was a straight shot knocked back in one swallow, maybe Noirotica 2 is the beer chaser -- it mellows out the edge, lets you grin, and gets you set for the next round. (And the next round is purportedly coming in a third volume.) Maybe the drink doesn't knock you on your ass like the first, but as long as Roche is setting 'em up, I'm delighted to keep downing 'em. Noirotica 2 is more than worth taking the trip to the dive. Cheap neon glare, lipstick traces on the glasses, tough-talking private dicks, hot babes more dangerous than any weapon, smoky haze and smoking guns, and always more than just a promise of sweaty, dangerous sex-- Noirotica 2 : Pulp Frictiondelivers.