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Los Angeles Noir 2: The Classics

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From Hollywood starlets to downtown taxi dancers, and from Central Avenue speakeasies to clapboard Venice Beach shacks to Depression-era hobos riding the rails, this volume brings you the masters of the genre penning tales of love, lust, and loss in the City of Angels. Includes classic stories by: Raymond Chandler, Paul Cain, James Ellroy, Leigh Brackett, James M. Cain, Che From Hollywood starlets to downtown taxi dancers, and from Central Avenue speakeasies to clapboard Venice Beach shacks to Depression-era hobos riding the rails, this volume brings you the masters of the genre penning tales of love, lust, and loss in the City of Angels. Includes classic stories by: Raymond Chandler, Paul Cain, James Ellroy, Leigh Brackett, James M. Cain, Chester Himes, Ross MacDonald, Walter Mosley, Naomi Hirahara, Margaret Millar, Joseph Hansen, William Campbell Gault, Jervey Tervalon, Kate Braverman, and Yxta Maya Murray. Editor Denise Hamilton is the author of the Eve Diamond series and the editor of "Los Angeles Noir." Her latest novel, "Los Angeles Times" bestseller "The Last Embrace," has been compared to works by James Ellroy and Raymond Chandler. She lives in Los Angeles.


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From Hollywood starlets to downtown taxi dancers, and from Central Avenue speakeasies to clapboard Venice Beach shacks to Depression-era hobos riding the rails, this volume brings you the masters of the genre penning tales of love, lust, and loss in the City of Angels. Includes classic stories by: Raymond Chandler, Paul Cain, James Ellroy, Leigh Brackett, James M. Cain, Che From Hollywood starlets to downtown taxi dancers, and from Central Avenue speakeasies to clapboard Venice Beach shacks to Depression-era hobos riding the rails, this volume brings you the masters of the genre penning tales of love, lust, and loss in the City of Angels. Includes classic stories by: Raymond Chandler, Paul Cain, James Ellroy, Leigh Brackett, James M. Cain, Chester Himes, Ross MacDonald, Walter Mosley, Naomi Hirahara, Margaret Millar, Joseph Hansen, William Campbell Gault, Jervey Tervalon, Kate Braverman, and Yxta Maya Murray. Editor Denise Hamilton is the author of the Eve Diamond series and the editor of "Los Angeles Noir." Her latest novel, "Los Angeles Times" bestseller "The Last Embrace," has been compared to works by James Ellroy and Raymond Chandler. She lives in Los Angeles.

30 review for Los Angeles Noir 2: The Classics

  1. 4 out of 5

    Joe Valdez

    The noir anthologies published by Akashic Books have simply been one of my greatest discoveries since joining Goodreads. Debuting in 2004 with Brooklyn Noir, the series has expanded to at least eighty collections set in cities or regions around the globe, from Amsterdam to Zagreb. If you love crime fiction loaded with dames, deceit and death, these books are for you. If you love travelogue or fiction that transports you to foreign locales, these books are for you. If you're interested in discove The noir anthologies published by Akashic Books have simply been one of my greatest discoveries since joining Goodreads. Debuting in 2004 with Brooklyn Noir, the series has expanded to at least eighty collections set in cities or regions around the globe, from Amsterdam to Zagreb. If you love crime fiction loaded with dames, deceit and death, these books are for you. If you love travelogue or fiction that transports you to foreign locales, these books are for you. If you're interested in discovering authors, possibly ones based in your area, these books are for you. For authors, this series is the best creative writing instruction a library card can buy. Nothing separates the wheat from the chaff like reading fifteen different authors operating in the same genre, region and page count and studying who flourishes, who flounders and why. Next up for me is Los Angeles Noir 2: The Classics, edited by Denise Hamilton and published in 2010. Reaching back for a handful of authors who published in the 20th century and others whose stories are set there, this volume was considerably tougher for me to stay engaged with. These are my five favorite stories: 1. The Chirashi Covenant by Naomi Hirahara. Published in 2007, a charmless beauty named Helen Miura has married into the top of Japanese American social scene in postwar L.A. Her chirashi dishes are the envy of her friends, though her husband is looking to move them from Boyle Heights to Gardena, with her despised mother-in-law in tow. An encounter with an Anglo real estate agent named Bob Burkard leads her down dangerous paths. This is the second short story by Hirahara I've read in this collection and once again, her balance of sexual attraction, explosive violence and devotion to Asian characters or neighborhoods are on the money. Five stars. 2. Crimson Shadow by Walter Mosley. Published in 1995, ex-con Socrates Fortlow catches a boy stealing a rooster in the alley outside his rattrap apartment. Socrates gives the boy a lesson in poultry preparation and responsibility, as well as digging at what's behind a guilty conscience he detects in his protege. Published in Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned, this short story appears almost as-is in the HBO film on the same name with Laurence Fishburne as Socrates, but Mosley's ability to conjure pathos and transport the reader to Watts through his prose is bar none. Five stars. 3. Dead Man by James M. Cain. Published in 1936, a quick-witted nineteen-year-old hobo who goes by "Lucky" believes he's eluded the railroad detective chucking the other hobos off a freight train as it leaves Los Angeles, but a scuffle in the railyard leaves the copper dead. Lucky heads back to L.A. to establish an alibi, his mind finding incriminating evidence everywhere it looks. Cain's terse dialogue and vivid prose could have been written today, while his content continues to pull me in. Who doesn't love a good tale about hobos riding the rails? Five stars. 4. Tall Tales From the Mekong Delta by Kate Braverman. Published in 1990, an unnamed woman five months sober, recently hospitalized, recently divorced, is on her way to an AA meeting in West Hollywood when she's waylaid by a cagey Vietnam veteran named Lenny who absolutely refuses to take "no" for an answer as he offers her the world. Of all the authors here, Braverman's hypnotic prose mesmerized me the most, and that's saying something. The entire story made me feel as if I were coming off a bender myself. Five stars. 5. The Night's For Cryin' by Chester Himes. Published in 1937, an ill-tempered hoodlum named Black Boy rides his temper from a bar to the hotel where a man he sees his girl riding around with works. The story is quick and brutal and breathless. Himes literally dropped me into a bar with strange faces and foul tempers and threw me into another man's clothes for a wild ride. Four stars. Raymond Chandler's I'll Be Waiting features some terrific descriptions, James Ellroy's High Darktown fantastic scene setting on V-J Day and William Campbell Gault's The Kerman Kill an Armenian private dick searching for a missing Persian rug and the teenage girl gone with it. Stories by Paul Cain, Leigh Brackett and Ross Macdonald were dense and so difficult for me to relate to, like a dreaded reading assignment in high school. John Fante, Erle Stanley Gardner, Robert Bloch and Richard Matheson were considered but not included by Hamilton. Though this was harder to finish than I wanted and not nearly as much fun as Los Angeles Noir, I do recommend the Akashic Noir anthologies to anyone interested in dropping into a city or region and sampling the best in its authors, past and present. I made some terrific discoveries.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lisa See

    I absolutely loved this collection. Denise Hamilton did a wonderful job selecting the best of the best. (She's such a great writer too.) I read one story each night. Now I want to read some of the others in the series. I can pick from a lot of cities around the globe.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Trixie Fontaine

    I love reading West Coast stuff. Really I get excited about all non-East Coast stories (so fucking sick of New York), so I'm enjoying collecting these Akashic Noir books. I love having stories grouped together by places; there's something especially potent about a bunch of stories from different people in different times being stacked on each other to make a sense of a place coalesce. Dreamy good weather at all hours all year opens up a special door to surreal sunny blackness; the last story in I love reading West Coast stuff. Really I get excited about all non-East Coast stories (so fucking sick of New York), so I'm enjoying collecting these Akashic Noir books. I love having stories grouped together by places; there's something especially potent about a bunch of stories from different people in different times being stacked on each other to make a sense of a place coalesce. Dreamy good weather at all hours all year opens up a special door to surreal sunny blackness; the last story in the collection (Kate Braverman's "Tall Tales from the Mekong Delta") was a perfect final note. My three favorite stories in this book: *James M. Cain's "Dead Man" - beautiful AF *Margaret Millar's "The People Across the Canyon" - hi Twilight Zone *Walter Mosley's "Crimson Shadow" - I always love stories about people cooking, eating, and/or feeding somebody; a big reason I love private dick lit is for the abundance of men cooking alone and feeding themselves and others.

  4. 5 out of 5

    John Hood

    Bound: The City of Shady Angels - SunPost Weekly July 15, 2010 http://bit.ly/9k8i3U John Hood If cities are chicks – and if a city’s worth anything, it better be a chick – then L.A. is one shady lady. You might also say she’s a chick in heat. Wanton, insatiable, and faithful only as far as the next kiss, she’s the kinda chick a man will fall for, kill for and even die for, even as she’s walking out the door. L.A. is also a city of deep and often creepy secrets. Like the hot chick, it’ll give you the Bound: The City of Shady Angels - SunPost Weekly July 15, 2010 http://bit.ly/9k8i3U John Hood If cities are chicks – and if a city’s worth anything, it better be a chick – then L.A. is one shady lady. You might also say she’s a chick in heat. Wanton, insatiable, and faithful only as far as the next kiss, she’s the kinda chick a man will fall for, kill for and even die for, even as she’s walking out the door. L.A. is also a city of deep and often creepy secrets. Like the hot chick, it’ll give you the cold shoulder, purely as a matter of habit. But it’s a habit born of conflicting whispers and not so subtle innuendo, rather than any natural arrogance (though there is that too). When she does warm up and talk, it’s the things that are left unsaid you’ve gotta watch out for. Because it’s the untold tale that tells all. That’s obviously why Los Angeles is so full of story, and why nearly every story that springs from the city is shadier and more duplicitous than the last. The good folks at Akashic Books know this, and they’ve made a point of showing us too. Back in 2008 the Brooklyn-based house added to its ever-growing arsenal of Noir series titles by luring the likes of Michael Connelly, Susan Straight and Neal Pollack and letting ‘em rip about the city each calls home. The result, Los Angeles Noir (Akashic $15.95), was a ‘hood-by-‘hood romp through the shadows, and, like the others in the series, the equivalent of being given a detailed map to the town’s teaming underbelly. More recently Akashic went back to the city of shady angels and unleashed Los Angeles Noir 2: The Classics ($15.95). Like its predecessor, this second take was expertly edited by Denise Hamilton, a former L.A. Times reporter who’s got her own set of sprees starring the indomitable Eve Diamond. Unlike the previous edition, however, the stories contained here are some of the stories that set the stage for all the other stories to come. Among the many highlights are Leigh Brackett’s “I Feel Bad Killing You,” Chester Himes’ “The Night’s for Cryin’” and James M. Cain’s “Dead Man.” Cain, you’ll recall, was the crack scribe behind the novels Double Indemnity, Mildred Pierce and The Postman Always Rings Twice, about as dynamite a debut as possible, while Himes was the rad cat who gave the world Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones, the two gunned-up gumshoes of The Real Cool Killers and Cotton Comes to Harlem. Brackett wrote novels too, but she’s perhaps best remembered for scripting Robert Altman’s version of Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye and teaming with William Faulkner and Jules Furthman to do likewise for Howard Hawks’ adaptation of Chandler’s The Big Sleep, unquestionably one of the top ten movies of all time. The Big Sleep also happens to be the novel that made Raymond Chandler’s name synonymous with Noir. In fact it could be said that there’d be no Noir without Chandler (The Classics kicks off with his “I’ll Be Waiting”). Oh, the bad actors that define the form were already there, of course (in fact, Chandler knew many of them), and a whole host of wise-crackin’ scribblers were already pulping it up in rags like Black Mask by the time he came to the game. But before Chandler no writer had captured the City of Shady Angels with such depth and nuance. And none had made the low-slung story into such high art. Like the bad actors that populate his fiction, Chandler in fact had a past in fact, and Richard Rayneruses that past to thread A Bright and Guilty Place (Anchor $15.95). An oil executive of some small renown (back when forests of derricks covered the L.A. basin), Chandler was also a drunk and a bit of a skirt-chaser. When a fellow executive ratted him out to the big boss at the height of the Depression, Chandler got summarily sacked. And it was then that fate forced him to pick up a pen. It was slow going at first. In the seven years before breaking through with The Big Sleep Chandler wrote only a total of 20 stories. The first, as Rayner recounts, was called “Blackmailer’s Don’t Shoot,” and it was structured after a novella by Erle Stanley Gardner, then a big man on the Black Mask campus. Gardner, who’d eventually go on to create the legendary Perry Mason, was also the inspiration behind the second career of Leslie T. White, an investigator with the L.A. DA’s office. White couldn’t abide by the city’s continuous and rampant corruption, and after nearly a decade of witnessing the nefarious doings of what was then called “The System,” he bowed out and began writing of what he knew. Considering White was on hand to investigate the high profile killings of Ned Doheny (son of Teapot Dome oil baron E. L. Doheny and man of the Greystone mansion) and System boss Charlie Crawford (who ran ‘20s and ‘30s L.A. as if it were a fiefdom), he knew a lot. But it was when his boss BuronFitts dropped the prosecution against millionaire John P. Mills in what was called the Love Mart trial and instead saw to the conviction of madam Olive Day (who was testifying for the D.A.) that White decided enough was enough. And in his second life he’d leave behind a horde of stories and one minor classic called Me, Detective. Rayner’s counterpoint in the telling of L.A.’s shady beginnings is Assistant D.A. David H. Clark, a one-time golden boy who let The System have its way with the city – and eventually with him himself. But like all good guys gone bad who commit multiple murders, karma would catch up to Clark. And Rayner uses his headlined life as a sorta cautionary tale to what can happen to man of fluid morals in a city hellbent on being illicit. With a title taken from Orson Welles, Rayner’s highly-entertaining account of the facts that led to such great fiction is kinda like being let in on the creation story itself. An inside look at the inner workings of those who lived outside and above the laws that they themselves often made. John Buntin also takes two characters to tell his L.A. story, though in his case it’s gangster Mickey Cohen and Police Chief William H. Parker, perhaps the two best known figures in the city’s pivotal history. Like all of the above, it is the shadows that most interest Buntin, and his L.A. Noir (Three Rivers Press $16) is consumed with what wenton when “the streets were dark with something more than night.” Buntin begins where Rayner left off, in the late ‘30s, when Parker and Cohen were just coming up. Parker, a native of Deadwood, South Dakota, fought long and hard, against seemingly insurmountable odds, to rid the LAPD of its bad elements. Cohen, who was born in Brownsville, New York, fought it out on the streets after the collapse of The System left a void in the underworld. By the ‘50s the two had become mortal enemies. And it is their ongoing battle which Buntin chronicles with such relish. As you might suspect, it’s a knockdown, drag out, blood-soaked battle for the very soul of the city itself. People get dead. Then more people get dead. Most of them deserving of the bullets.The bold-faced names are here in force, from newspaper moguls Harry Chandler and William Randolph Hearst (who also hated each other), studio head Harry Cohn, to entertainers like Frank Sinatra, Lana Turner and Sammy Davis Jr. But it’s Buntin’s sense of place which propels this rigorously researched look back into the depths of America’s most fable-ridden town, and his ability to evoke all the madness and badness and danger as if it were yesterday. Taken separately, any one of the aforementioned is a delightfully dark ride down some very mean streets. Taken together however, they’re the sum of the sordid cityin its entirety. If you’re at all interested in how L.A. got to be such a shady lady, in fiction and in fact, then this quartet is just what you need to get.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    I picked this up because I only recently heard of the author Leigh Brackett, and wanted to find some of her works. The library didn't ahve any novels, but she showed up in both this and a Women in Sci-Fi compilation, will I am looking forward to reading just as soon as my wife is done with it :) Some really good stories in here, dating back to the '30s up to the '90s. Would definitely read again.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Chloe

    3.5 stars "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," the first quarter of the four sections in this collection, is absolutely excellent. There's some really top notch noir going on here, but the rest of the collection is a bit weaker in comparison, even if I appreciate editor Denise Hamilton's broad "classics" selection. Naomi Hirahara really caught my attention with her Japanese-American femme fatale protagonist in "The Chirashi Covenant." I really enjoyed Hirahara's story in the previous Los Angeles Noir collection 3.5 stars "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," the first quarter of the four sections in this collection, is absolutely excellent. There's some really top notch noir going on here, but the rest of the collection is a bit weaker in comparison, even if I appreciate editor Denise Hamilton's broad "classics" selection. Naomi Hirahara really caught my attention with her Japanese-American femme fatale protagonist in "The Chirashi Covenant." I really enjoyed Hirahara's story in the previous Los Angeles Noir collection as well, and I've now added one of her longer novels to my to-read list based on the strength of her short stories. I also really enjoyed Joseph Hansen's "Surf," featuring gay insurance investigator Dave Brandstetter, and William Campbell Gault's rug-expert Armenian private eye in "The Kerman Kill." I was quietly blown away by Walter Mosley's Socrates Fortlow short, "Crimon Shadow." I much preferred the narrative voice of Fortlow over Easy Rawlins, another Mosley protagonist who failed to charm me much. And finally, I was really drawn into the tense violence and ruthlessness of Yxta Maya Murray's "Lucía." I generally really don't enjoy novel excerpts and prefer short stories that are meant to be real alone, but it stands well by itself as a short, and I loved the world crafted by Murray, and really enjoyed the Spanglish and the rhythm of the writing and dialogue. I guess there are really some stand-outs in this collection, but the other stories I haven't mentioned failed to charm me much. I'd still recommend it to noir fans who've already gotten through the previous collection in the series.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Robert P. Hoffman

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Murder in Blue A great story that has believable characters, wonderful twists, and a story that is powerful. I Feel Bad Killing You A wonderful story that has a strong plot and enough twists to make it a joy to read. The characters are so well drawn. Dead Man This is a masterpiece, one of the best short stories I have read. The main character is so well drawn. The focus is on the interior monologue of the main character and how he thinks through what has happened to him. And the last scene is just Murder in Blue A great story that has believable characters, wonderful twists, and a story that is powerful. I Feel Bad Killing You A wonderful story that has a strong plot and enough twists to make it a joy to read. The characters are so well drawn. Dead Man This is a masterpiece, one of the best short stories I have read. The main character is so well drawn. The focus is on the interior monologue of the main character and how he thinks through what has happened to him. And the last scene is just powerful and so well done. The Night's for Cryin' Another masterpiece that tells a powerful story as to how racism destroys the souls of the racist and the person suffering all the indignities and oppression of racism. This story and the previous are two of the finest stories I have come across

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Jones

    A sublime collection from one of my favorite cities anywhere. Come for the Chandler, stay for the Leigh Brackett and Margaret Miller.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Foster

    A good anthology. Hit or miss as always with such a selection, but as with Vol. 1 I found some keepers for further investigation.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Davidg

    For the most part, this is an excellent anthology. I sighed a little at the choice of the Raymond Chandler story- much as I like it, is there no other Chandler short story that can be anthologised? It is the final section that lets the book down. We are no longer in the world of crimes being solved, instead we have extracts fro novels describing what it is like to live in the urban underclass. Socrates Fortlaw is a favourite character of mine, so I enjoyed rereading the Walter Mosley, and it did For the most part, this is an excellent anthology. I sighed a little at the choice of the Raymond Chandler story- much as I like it, is there no other Chandler short story that can be anthologised? It is the final section that lets the book down. We are no longer in the world of crimes being solved, instead we have extracts fro novels describing what it is like to live in the urban underclass. Socrates Fortlaw is a favourite character of mine, so I enjoyed rereading the Walter Mosley, and it did seem to stand on its own. The other extracts did not; there was no resolution and the reader is left hanging. Worth reading for the first three quarters.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lil' Grogan

    Blown away by: Crimson Shadow by Walter Mosley (for laughter, bitter truth and rhythm of dialogue), The Night's for Crying by Chester Himes (for the odd beauty in violence) and Tall Tales from the Mekong Delta by Kate Braverman (for poetry and our part in the devil's own voice). Most chilling moments: Leigh Brackett and Margaret Millar

  12. 5 out of 5

    Candace

    This collection of Los Angeles Noir is just as good as the first edition. Each story is not only set in a different area in Los Angeles, but are also from different time periods. A very fun and insightful read into the landscape of Los Angeles in the last century.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Diann Blakely

    My favorite contributions? Well, it's hard to choose, but I think I'd toss my votes in the direction of Walter Mosley's "Crimson Shadow," set in Watts, and Kate Braverman's "Tall Tales from the Mekong Delta." Classics indeed.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Larry

    I have been meaning to read one from this series for a while now. Picked this up yesterday. Looking forward to getting into it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Béatrice

    Pot pourri de polars, nouvelles ou extraits (ce n'est pas ce que je préfère!), parfois dur à comprendre (argot américain)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Anita Brenner

    A little uneven but the Millars' (Margaret and Ross McDonald) pieces are excellent

  17. 5 out of 5

    Leonard

    There were some truly classic writers (McDonald, Hansen, etc.) and a few good others, but some of the stories, especially were a bit hit and miss, and some I would not classify as noir.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Patrick O'Neil

    An okay collection of shorts - oddly, James Ellroy's "High Darktown" struck me as the strongest of the lot.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    Enjoyed skimming through this Noir book. Read some, skipped some. Was a perfect respite between some intense non-fiction books. [email protected]

  20. 4 out of 5

    Alisa

    Full of wonderful short stories! The end is a bit depressing....guess that is in keeping with the 'noir' theme.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Smith

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lo

  24. 5 out of 5

    Richardjoiner

  25. 4 out of 5

    Thomas J. Savoie

  26. 4 out of 5

    KFT Service

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jimi

  28. 4 out of 5

    Laila manuella

  29. 4 out of 5

    thetis

  30. 4 out of 5

    Julissa Martinez

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