Review: Cars and Girls: The Pankhearst FemNoir Sampler

I don’t read much noir. It’s not a genre I grew up reading so I’ve never had the affiliation to books by Chandler and Hammett that so cars-and-girls-kindle-coverinspire other crime fiction readers. However, I enjoy reading other people’s thoughts on the genre and two bloggers whose reviews usually inspire me are Keishon’s at Yet Another Crime Fiction Blog and Paul D Brazill’s at You Would Say That, Wouldn’t You?  I’m always interested in new presses that are getting off the ground though and when I was recently contacted about PANKHEARST, a new independent writers collective, I was interested to see what they were publishing.

Cars and Girls is a collection of four stories featuring the tales of women who find themselves in dire situations and decide to fight their way out. The first story, ‘500’ is by Zoë Spencer and is set in the UK. Emily is an English aristocrat on the run from her violent past and determined to kill before she is captured. ‘Roadrunner’ is a story by Tee Tyson and relates the story of a woman’s release from prison and her determination to avenge her past. ‘Barracuda’  by Madeline Harvey is set in Arkansas and a waitress decides to protect her sister’s reputation. The final story ‘Crown Victoria’ is by Evangeline Jennings and two young lovers go on a road trip to escape their pursuers.

As the title suggests, cars and girls are the theme of this book. It’s a provocative title and yet it suits the writing content and style. The stories are brutal and hard-hitting. Men are generally, but not always, the instigators of violence but the women are determined to seek revenge and redemption through their actions. I found some of the violence a little hard to take but I suspect this is because I’m not particularly used to the noir style and it’s certainly no worse than you can find in mainstream crime fiction. There’s a strong sexual theme in particularly the last story and I can see that one future project for the press is a collection of contemporary ‘noirotica’.

Fans of noir should give this collection a go. The stories are well written, brutal and engaging. The collection is dedicated to ‘everyone who said we couldn’t’ which suggests that considerable work has gone into getting this new press off the ground. I hope it achieves considerable success.