Review: Barry Forshaw – American Noir

I’ve reviewed all the previous books in this enjoyable series by Barry Forshaw published by Oldcastle Books: Nordic Noir, Euro Noir and Brit Noir. You get a useful overview of the genre in the introduction, individual entries for writers of note, a section on film and TV and a ‘top thirty’ of the best books.

American Noir was a slightly different read for me  because, as I looked through the entries, I realised  that there were a raft for writers I hadn’t heard of. I read a lot of female PI books in my twenties: Marcia Muller, Sarah Paretsky and Sue Grafton and am a huge fan of, and continue to read, Jonathan Kellerman and James Lee Burke. Perhaps because my early reading erred towards the British Golden Age rather than US noir, I appear to have missed out on a number of contemporary authors writing in that genre whose books sound fascinating.

It was good to see the inclusion of some writers I did recognise and are less well known here: Nevada Barr, Paul Doiron and Sarah Gran. There are also some interesting entries for writers I don’t necessarily associate with the crime novel such as Joan Brady and Paul Auster and for writers such as Tami Hoag and MG Gardiner who I have stopped reading and need to revisit their more recent works. It’s the mark of an excellent guide that you want to read or re-read the authors that are featured.

Forshaw states in his introduction that  it was hard to fit all living writers in the pages and helpfully guides readers to his Rough Guide to Crime Fiction. There you will find Lawrence Block whose Matt Scudder books are one of my favourites.

American Noir is a delightful addition to the series and fans of the crime fiction genre will love it. I’m looking forward to dipping in and out of it in the future and adding to my already toppling TBR pile.