Launched in 2004 with Brooklyn Noir, Akashic's series of regional noir anthologies continues with these welcome eighth and ninth entries. Who better to edit the volume dedicated to Baltimore than Lippman, a former Baltimore Sun reporter whose popular Tess Monaghan series is set in Charm City (also known as "Bulletmore" for its steadfastly high homicide rate)? Lippman also contributes the first and one of the best of the 16 original stories, "Easy as A-B-C," about a contractor who puts his building skills to use when his affair with his client ends. Charlie Stella's on-target dialog spotlights mob efficiency in "Ode to the O's.", while the Fell's Point area is the locale for two tales: Rob Hiassen's "Over My Dead Body," which revolves around the area's gentrification, and Dan Fesperman's "As Seen on TV," in which a Balkan hit man doesn't know that his favorite show, Homicide, which was set here, has long since been cancelled. Other writers include Marcia Talley, Sujata Massey, Tim Cockey, Jim Fusilli, and Homicide author David Simon. Once known as the Saintly City, St. Paul, MN, sheltered criminals on the run during the 1920s and 1930s, and in the mid-1990s Minneapolis was tagged as "Murderapolis" for a rash of killings one summer. So these wholesome Midwestern metropolises have their underside, as several good authors-Pete Hautman, K.J. Erickson, Larry Millett, David Housewright, William Kent Krueger, and Mary Logue-reveal in this collection. A famous writer finds a satisfying means of dealing with the hijacking of her web domain name in Judith Guest's captivating "Eminent Domain," and in Ellen Hart's suspenseful "Blind Sided," a man who's losing his sight comments "You can't go blind in Minnesota without being offered a lot of help-it's the way Minnesotans are." That may explain why these 15 original stories-some dealing with organized crime and less-than-peaceful death-are overall less dark than in the other anthologies reviewed here. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.