Alabama Noir, edited by Don Noble, is a beautifully engineered anthology of 16 crime and mystery stories that are heavy on setting, atmosphere, and human emotion. The tales are more Southern gothic than noir. Each is entertaining and most illuminate something about our culture without losing their Southern drawl. Michelle Richmond’s “What Brings You Back Home” is a tale about loss and payback. It has a thriller’s smooth craft, but the meaning and power is very much rooted in crime.
“Murder at the Grand Hotel,” by Winston Groom—the same writer who gave us Forrest Gump—is a humorous take on the tax man’s version of “it’s not personal” and a small businessman’s very personal and ultimately ironic revenge. And it’s done with a sly and smile-inducing wit. Tom Franklin’s “Her Job” is a short-short with a bleak take on a mother’s duties, no matter where they take her. “Sweet Baby” by Ace Atkins is a brilliant commentary about the culture of online voyeurism. The narrative is spun in a perfect Alabama vernacular from its opening sentence to its ironic ending.
Alabama Noir also includes excellent stories by Carolyn Haines, Brad Watson, Daniel Wallace, Wendy Reed, and many more.