Toronto Noir

Toronto Noir

by Janine Armin

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A multicultural nexus, Toronto hosts Indian, Portuguese, African, Italian, and Chinese communities that provide fertile backdrops for Toronto Noir’s corrosive exposés.

Features brand-new stories by: RM Vaughan, Nathan Sellyn, Ibi Kaslik, Peter Robinson, Heather Birrell, Sean Dixon, Raywat Deonandad, Christine Murray, Gail Bowen, Emily


A multicultural nexus, Toronto hosts Indian, Portuguese, African, Italian, and Chinese communities that provide fertile backdrops for Toronto Noir’s corrosive exposés.

Features brand-new stories by: RM Vaughan, Nathan Sellyn, Ibi Kaslik, Peter Robinson, Heather Birrell, Sean Dixon, Raywat Deonandad, Christine Murray, Gail Bowen, Emily Schultz, Andrew Pyper, Kim Moritsugu, Mark Sinnet, George Elliott Clarke, Pasha Malla, and Michael Redhill.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Most U.S. readers will be surprised to learn from the editors' introduction to this fine addition to Akashic's noir series that Toronto is "North America's most multicultural metropolis outside of Miami." That diversity is well served by the volume's 16 selections, only one of which is by an author likely to be familiar to American mystery fans. Peter Robinson (Friend of the Devil and 16 other Inspector Banks novels) demonstrates his mastery of the short story with "Walking the Dog": Lloyd Francis's attractive wife, Laura, begins a torrid affair with a model, Ray Lanagan, and before long Laura and Ray are scheming to bring about Lloyd's untimely demise. Robinson deftly inserts two major surprises into the plot, which should please James M. Cain and Cornell Woolrich fans. The anthology's other standout is Gail Bowen's "The King of Charles Street West," which, with its complex and insightful revenge plot line, should help gain Bowen, an Arthur Ellis Award winner, a wider U.S. following. (May)

Copyright 2007Reed Business Information
Library Journal

If you like your mystery short stories dark with a Canadian flavor, this latest entry in the "Akashic Books Noir" series is for you. New tales by such Canadian authors as Gail Bowen, Kim Moritsugu, Janine Armin, and Andrew Pyper are set in various Toronto neighborhoods, from the affluent middle-class Beaches and Bloor West Village to gentrified Parkdale to tawdry basement flats in East York and Queen West. Featuring bored housewives, wronged lovers, mad scientists, murderous best friends, movie stars, wannabes, and peeping toms, the stories are engrossing and entertaining. This book gives readers a taste of Toronto as experienced by Torontonians and, discounting the noir aspect of the stories, shows why Canadians both love and hate their biggest city. This gem should be considered for every short story collection, particularly those in Canadian libraries.
—Lisa O'Hara

Product Details

Akashic Books
Publication date:
Akashic Noir Series
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

Toronto Noir
Akashic Books Copyright © 2008 Akashic Books
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-933354-50-7

Introduction To Noir a Good Night

In 1834, York, city of mud and canons, became Toronto, city of trauma and free refills. Depending on what side of the CN Tower you stand under, Toronto is histrionic or claustrophobic, gelling or uncool. It's the 1967 Stanley Cup champion Maple Leafs; it's a fading World Series Blue Jays souvenir cup. It's gaggles of language-starved landfill stalkers who text and Facebook and spit wads of bubble gum onto the world's cleanest tarmac.

With its simple gestures, a stolen blue bike, a red balloon caught by a fraying string on Oakland Avenue, Toronto bids for more than the Olympics. Frustrated and frustrating, it teems with forensic experts and film-set extras trying to interpret our troubled conscience.

Even though it's North America's most multicultural metropolis outside of Miami, it's more commonly known for its cold winters, strong beer, and variety of transportation options. Perhaps that's why it's so disorienting. As Gail Bowen notes in "The King of Charles Street West," Come in and get lost is strategically emblazoned on Toronto's landmark five-and-dime Honest Ed's. The Toronto Transit Commission has moved over twenty-five billion people since 1921, almost four times the world's population. And while the transit monopoly searches for its next light rail train, others search for their next breath, meal, or kiss.

Toronto Noir lets a bit of moonlight contour the ever mobile city, allowing a glimpse, a brief catch and release. Sentimentality and deception bring these stories together. Dog-ear this book, use it as foreplay for further encounters on your coffee table. Sift through the stiff pages written by people who inform and present their city in a way no double-decker gimmick bus whizzing past the Rogers Centre and Casa Loma could ever hope to do. It is in our emergency rooms and carrying our groceries home that we are Torontonians.

Some of our youth emulate high-octane luxury-car drag racing video games and kill taxi cab drivers one day shy of becoming a Canadian citizen. Others try and steal Michael Stipe's microphone when he passes it down to the audience during a free concert at Dundas Square. Some nights we listen and judge, while others, the air has a pulse and bodies clog the carb-heaving arteries of concrete. Some nights, living isn't enough and words are all we have; they blow them out without leaving a note or forwarding address.

Some leave us, while others like Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, and Ken Dryden carry the torch. The city is haunted by ghosts that sometimes get parks named after them: Gwendolyn MacEwan, Oscar Peterson, Jeff Buckley, Timothy Findley. Musically, Toronto spars with New York. The Bare-naked Ladies, Broken Social Scene, Ron Sexsmith, Gordon Lightfoot, Glass Tiger, Platinum Blonde, and Triumph all got their starts here.

Not that anybody knows. Toronto grounds itself in its unknowing.

Working and living under the Great North, Toronto Noir's authors share the weight of the unseen and the dying. Music binds Mark Sinnett to self-erasure and Peter Robinson inflects domestic problems with the twist of a foreign knife. Heather Birrell takes us to Ecuador and shows us how maternal longing can be an evil thing.

"A writer uses a pen instead of a scalpel or blowtorch," says Ondaatje. Here, Peter Street's clubland spawns nightly crime-scene sound bites. In the West End, bucolic mansions are usurped by halfway houses. Bollywood screenings warm up Little India on murderously cold winter nights, while cadavers conceal their wares in cemetery-riddled East York.

In the end, physical acts and written acts share a parasitic need to enjoy and to tolerate. So clash away, city by the lake, it all comes down to communal passions: crimping your hair, making deviled eggs, varnishing the deck, not calling someone back, ever.

These stories capture encounters that happen every day. They resurrect the brutish moments displaced by high school graduations and taxi strikes, preserve them in metaphor, wrap them in gauze. Except here we let the carnivorous parchment swell heavy: a panting mascot, tied outside a bank, awaiting the return of its owner.

Come in, and get lost.

Janine Armin & Nathaniel G. Moore Toronto, Ontario February 2008


Excerpted from Toronto Noir Copyright © 2008 by Akashic Books. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Janine Armin writes regularly for the Toronto Globe & Mail and contributes to Bookforum, the Village Voice and Maisonneuve. She lives in Toronto. Nathaniel G. Moore is the author of Bowlbrawl (Conundrum) and Let's Pretend We Never Met (Pedlar). He is the features editor of The Danforth Review and a columnist for Broken Pencil. He divides his time between Montreal and Toronto.

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