Boston Noir

Author: Dennis Lehane

Dennis Lehane has proven himself to be a master of both crime fiction and literary fiction. Here, he extends his literary prowess to that of master curator. In keeping with the Akashic Noir Series tradition, each story in Boston Noir is set in a different neighborhood of the city; the impressively diverse collection extends from Roxbury to Cambridge, from Southie to the Boston Harbor; and all stops in between. Lehane's own contribution — the longest story in the volume — is set in his beloved home neighborhood of Dorchester and showcases his phenomenal ability to grip the heart, soul, and throat of the reader.

Boston Noir

Publishers Weekly (starred review):

In the best of the 11 stories in this outstanding entry in Akashic's noir series, characters, plot and setting feed off each other like flames and an arsonist's accelerant. These include Lehane's own "Animal Rescue," about a killing resulting from a lost and contested pit bull; John Dufresne's "The Cross-Eyed Bear," in which a pedophile priest is caught between the icy representative of the archdiocese and one of his now adult victims; and Don Lee's "The Oriental Hair Poets," which charts a literary feud that escalates into a police case. Two populations that define the city for outsiders -- the elite WASP Brahmins and the hundreds of thousands of college students surging through to earn their degrees -- appear only in passing. While Lehane expresses the fear in his introduction that Boston is becoming beiger, less tribal and gritty and more gentrified and homogenized, this anthology shows that noir can thrive where Raymond Chandler has never set foot.



The latest in Akashic's noir anthologies focusing on specific cities -- there have been more than 30 of them since the series' inception in 2004 -- features 11 original stories, each set in a different Boston neighborhood. In his introduction, editor Lehane calls noir "working-class tragedy," which is an apt description of these stories. A woman murders her boss over an oft-promised but never-delivered promotion; a man finds a dog in the garbage, adopts it, and winds up exacting punishment on the dog's abusive former owner; a down-on-his-luck New York musician, forced by his wife to relocate to Boston, finds something very unusual to do to pass the time; a post-World War II private eye is hired by a beautiful woman whose hidden agenda has unexpected results. The stories, written by Lehane and a host of contributors (including Brendan DuBois, Stewart O'Nan, and Jim Fusilli), are uniformly solid, with characters, plots, and atmosphere that evoke the classic noirs of Cain, Woolrich, and Thompson.


The New York Times:

Dennis Lehane advises us not to judge the genre by its Hollywood images of sharp men in fedoras lighting cigarettes for femmes fatales standing in the dark alleys ... [Lehane] writes persuasively of the gentrification that has ... left people feeling crushed.