Cape Cod Noir
Edited by David L Ulin

Akashic Books
2011
Paperback
Part of a Series of "Noir" anthologies







"I was minding my own business. I was at home watching television. The show was a police drama. Everyone told me it was fantastic. I didn’t see the appeal. The older detective was always shouting at the younger detective… The female detective wore her uniform comically tight."
(from Viva Regina by Ben Greenman)



Reviewed by Sarah Hilary

Variously presented as "the flip side of the Kennedys" and the Cape after the summer preppies have gone home, this is a terrific anthology of unexpected stories, every bit as "nuanced" as the cover blurb promises, if not always as "profound" (but then profundity isn’t everyone’s principle requirement when it comes to noir).

Edited by David Ulin, for whom Cape Cod is "a repository of memory (spanning) forty summers in the same house", the anthology is part of Akashic Books award-winning series. Unlike some anthologies, this contains all-new stories by writers including Jedediah Berry (winner of the Hammett Prize), Dana Cameron (nominated for the Edgar, Anthony, Agatha and Macavity Awards), Boston Globe bestseller, Elyssa East and Adam Mansbach, whose humorous children's book Go the F*ck to Sleep was seen flying off UK bookshelves last Christmas.

With a splendid map of the hooked arm of the Cape at the front end, the anthology is divided into three parts: Out of Season, Summer People, and End of the Line. Not that this dictates how readers choose where to dive in; like most anthologies, this is best read by opening at random.

Nineteen Snapshots of Dennisport by Paul Tremblay is a story told in photographs, each one revealing a little more of the plot and the narrator's character. It's a neat conceit that carries the story smoothly to its expected but satisfying conclusion.

Variations on a Fifty-Pound Bale by Adam Mansbach tells conflicting accounts of the fate of bale of wrapped marijuana that comes ashore close to Martha's Vineyard. It's an ingeniously well-told story that demonstrates the inventiveness of the genre and has that fine lick of black humour that's found in the best noir tales.

Bad Night in Hyannisport by Seth Greenland begins, "I was dead. That was the main thing." (This reader once passed a night in Hyannisport and wonders if the narrator didn't have the right idea.) No doubt it's been done before, and since, but what a great way to start a story.

Viva Regina by Ben Greenman is told almost entirely in single lines, like a witness statement. You'll have read it before you realise you've started. Clever.

Twenty-Eight Scenes for Neglected Guests by Jedediah Berry combines lyrical prose with humour and hubris, crazy characters with mad names, and a dog with stubby legs and round ears. What more could a reader want?


This review was originally published in Reviewing the Evidence



Sarah Hilary won the Sense Creative Award in 2010, and the Fish Criminally Short Histories Prize in 2008. Her fiction appears in The Fish Anthology, Smokelong Quarterly, and in the Crime Writers’ Association anthology, MO: Crimes of Practice. In 2011, she received an Honourable Mention in the Tom-Gallon Trust Award. In 2012, she launched Flashbang, a crime writing contest in association with CrimeFest. Sarah is currently committing a crime novel. Her agent is Jane Gregory .
Sarah's other Short Reviews: Katherine Mansfield "The Collected Stories"   

Muriel Spark "The Complete Short Stories"   

"I.D. Crimes of Identity" anthology

Susan DiPlacido "American Cool" 

Sophie Hannah "The Fantastic Book of Everybody's Secrets"

Benjamin Percy "Refresh, Refresh"


Chavisa Woods "Love Does Not Make me Gentle or Kind"

Jennifer Pelland "Unwelcome Bodies"

Laura Solomon "Alternative Medicine"

Patricia Highsmith "Nothing that Meets the Eye"

Grace Paley "Collected Stories"

Peter Gordon "Man Receives a Letter"


Patrick Gale "Gentleman's Relish"

Warren Bull "Murder Manhattan Style"

Edith Pearlman "Binocular Vision"

The Mammoth Book of British Crime

Kate Pullinger (ed) "Something Was There: Asham-Award-Winning Ghost Stories"
                     
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Authors David L. Ulin, Ben Greenman, Lizzie Skurnick, Dana Cameron, Jedediah Berry, Paul Tremblay, Seth Greenland, Kaylie Jones, Adam Mansbach, Elyssa East, Fred G. Leebron, William Hastings, and Dave Zeltserman.

Editor David L. Ulin is a book critic for the Los Angeles Times. From 2005 to 2010, he was the paper's book editor. He is the author of The Myth of Solid Ground: Earthquakes, Prediction, and the Fault Line Between Reason and Faith, and the editor of Another City: Writing from Los Angeles and Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology, which won a 2002 California Book Award. He teaches in the low residency MFA in Creative Writing Program at the University of California, Riverside's Palm Desert Graduate Center, and was a visiting professor in the Literary Journalism program at the University of California, Irvine in the spring of 2010. His latest book, The Lost Art of Reading, was published in November 2010.