Book Review: Twin Cities Noir: The Expanded Edition edited by Julie Schaper & Steven Horwitz
Like the previously reviewed USA Noir, this is a collection of grittier crime stories from Akashic Books with a regional focus. In this case, the cities of Saint Paul and Minneapolis in Minnesota, and the surrounded metro area, plus one up north in Duluth (“Hi, I’m God” by Steve Thayer; a teenager drowns in Lake Superior…or does he?)
This is the “expanded edition” released in 2013 with three new stories, bringing it to a total of eighteen. The new ones are conveniently all in the front in the “Star of the North” subsection, starting with John Jodzio’s “Someday All of This Will Probably Be Yours” about a speed dating scam gone wrong. The other sections are “Minnesota Nice”, “Uff Da” and “Funeral Hotdish.”
Each of the stories is set in a particular neighborhood, several of which I’m familiar with. One scene takes place less than a block from where I live! This makes it easy for me to picture the action in my mind. This may not be as evocative for non-locals, but will please readers in the Twin Cities area.
Some standouts: “Skyway Sleepless” written and drawn by Tom Kaczynski takes place in Minneapolis’ extensive skyway system. The art uses the rectangular boxes of the skyway to indicate the maze-like architecture of the story, as people are found filling chalk outlines and no memory of how they got there.
“The Brewer’s Son” by Larry Millett is a period piece set in 1892 Saint Paul, and starring his series character, saloonkeeper and amateur detective Shadwell Rafferty, acquaintance of Sherlock Holmes. The title character has been kidnapped, supposedly by the Black Hand, and Mr. Rafferty is called in by the concerned father. This is noir, so expect some darkness.
Mary Logue’s story “Blasted” takes place in upscale Kenwood, as a police officer tells her daughter about a domestic dispute call that was the most frightening experience of her life. The officer is still alive, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t good reason for fear.
The final story is “”Chili Dog” by Chris Everhart. A small time crook stops in downtown Saint Paul for lunch, and things go very wrong for him.
As a crime story anthology, there’s a fair bit of violence, one story features domestic abuse, and there’ mention of suicide.
If you are local to Minnesota, or have lived here in the past, highly recommended. The book’s pretty good if you’re not local, but you might miss some of the nuance. Akashic may have a volume set in your area; check their catalog. If you own the previous version, you might want to save money by going with the e-book, so you can check out the new stories without shelling out the big bucks.