"Brooklyn Noir came first in 2004, and now, 15 years later, Houston Noir--14 stories of intrigue, betrayal and death set from Tanglewood to Third Ward penned by current or former Houston authors--goes on sale."
"Akashic Books's long-running Noir Series tasks writers with imagining the dark sides of their communities, spinning gritty, shocking tales atop the local landscape. Recently the publisher tapped writer and former Houston poet laureate Gwendolyn Zepeda to serve as editor on a collection of stories about her native Bayou City. The end result is Houston Noir, out this month, whose 14 entries explore the murder, betrayal, and brujería lurking everywhere from River Oaks to the Ship Channel to a trailer park off FM 1960."
"Houston is a city on the rise when it comes to crime fiction--something about all those lonely highways, gravity-defying overpasses, and drastic urban sprawl (and of course, the crime rate) make Houston a perfect setting for noir. This port city of close to five million residents is ready for a new reputation as a world capital of literature, and we're here to support Akashic's new collection of noir tales from Texas's most complex city."
--CrimeReads, included in The Best New Crime Fiction of May 2019
"With sprawl and serial killers, Houston Noir packs a mean punch...Houston Noir is a welcome addition to the city's slowly filling bookcase."
"Editor Gwendolyn Zepeda has cannily divided the collection into four separate areas of the city, which only serves to multiply a reader's certainty: Like the sodden sheet covering a much-lacerated corpse, all of Houston is pretty much dripping with crime. Best to experience it, we suggest, only between the covers of this new paperback."
Akashic Books continues its award-winning series of original noir anthologies, launched in 2004 with Brooklyn Noir. Each book comprises all new stories, each one set in a distinct neighborhood or location within the respective city.
Brand-new stories by: Tom Abrahams, Robert Boswell, Sarah Cortez, Anton DiSclafani, Stephanie Jaye Evans, Wanjiku Wa Ngugi, Adrienne Perry, Pia Pico, Reyes Ramirez, Icess Fernandez Rojas, Sehba Sarwar, Leslie Contreras Schwartz, Larry Watts, and Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton.
From the introduction by Gwendolyn Zepeda:
In a 2004 essay, Hunter S. Thompson described Houston as a "cruel, crazy town on a filthy river in East Texas with no zoning laws and a culture of sex, money and violence. It's a shabby, sprawling metropolis ruled by brazen women, crooked cops and super-rich pansexual cowboys who live by the code of the West--which can mean just about anything you need it to mean, in a pinch." For what it's worth, that quote is now posted on a banner somewhere downtown and regularly, gleefully repeated by our local feature writers.
Houston is a port city on top of a swamp and, yes, it has no zoning laws. And that means it's culturally diverse, internally incongruous, and ever-changing. At any intersection here, I might look out my car window and see a horse idly munching St. Augustine grass. And, within spitting distance of that horse, I might see a "spa" that's an obvious brothel, a house turned drug den, or a swiftly rising bayou that might overtake a car if the rain doesn't let up...Overall, this collection represents the very worst our city has to offer, for residents and visitors alike. But it also presents some of our best voices, veteran and emerging, to any reader lucky enough to pick up this book.
Part I: Desirable Locations with Private Security
"Tangled" by Anton DiSclafani (Tanglewood)
"One in the Family" by Adrienne Perry (Museum District)
"The Use of Landscape" by Robert Boswell (River Oaks)
Part II: Peaceful Hamlets, Great for Families
"A Dark Universe" by Larry Watts (Clear Lake)
"Xitlali Zaragoza, Curandera" by Reyes Ramirez (Spring)
"Photo Album" by Sarah Cortez (Downtown)
Part III: Minutes from Downtown and Nightlife
"Where the Ends Meet" by Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton (Acres Homes)
"Tolerance" by Tom Abrahams (Third Ward)
"City of Girls" by Leslie Contreras Schwartz (Aldine)
"Miles's Blues" by Wanjiku Wa Ngugi (Montrose)
Part IV: Up-and-Coming Areas, Newly Revitalized
"Happy Hunting" by Icess Fernandez Rojas (North Shore)
"The Falls of Westpark" by Pia Pico (Westpark Corridor)
"Railway Track" by Sehba Sarwar (Lawndale)
"Jamie's Mother" by Stephanie Jaye Evans (Sunset Heights)
"When Edgar Allen Poe proclaimed two centuries ago that no one should write anything that can't be read in one sitting, he couldn't have anticipated how well that constraint serves today's frenetic, uber-scheduled modern millennium. The Houston Noir short story collection is what Poe meant: solid, quick, satisfying reads that fit perfectly between appointments, in waiting rooms, carpool lines, coffee breaks, or when you just need a quick escape from reality."
--Lone Star Literary Life
Houston Noir is Murder by the Book's #1 Bestselling Paperback of 2019!
Included in CrimeReads's Most Anticipated Crime Books of Summer 2019!
"The Use of Landscape" by Robert Boswell has been selected as one of the Best Mystery Stories of 2019 by Robert Lopresti of SleuthSayers
Included in Malvern Books's May 2019 New Books roundup
"Zepeda's introduction notes her hometown's unique features, including the absence of any zoning laws, making Houston 'culturally diverse, internally incongruous, and ever-changing'...Noir aficionados will be pleased."
"There's precious little comfort to be found in any of these Houston neighborhoods, most of which are set light-years away from the city's notoriously cushy new-money culture...Houston comes across as a haven of multiculturalism--though, as in all the 90-plus volumes of Akashic's 15-year-old series, the vision of the city that emerges isn't likely to jump-start tourism for any but the most ghoulishly inclined."
"Houston Noir has arrived, an ode to the grime, grit and glamour of Texas's largest, most fascinating (and, to be fair, probably ugliest) city. Houston is unique in Texas history in that it's a large, multicultural port city that has never had zoning laws. While that can mean oil refineries located right next to schools, it can also mean--and does mean--one of the least segregated cities in the United States, which, combined with urban sprawl, means every kind of story, in every kind of combination, is up for grabs as a Houston story. We can't wait to see all the different visions of this complex town!"
"I had the intense pleasure of living in Houston for four years this past decade. But my fondness for my time there did not prevent my pleasure reading this collection of noir tales exploring Houston's fetid underbelly."
"The fourteen stories are set in various Houston neighborhoods and suburbs (including the one I live in), and most of the stories do a very good job of capturing the unique atmospheres of each of the locations, something I both appreciated and enjoyed...Houston Noir is fun, and it further confirms my love of the whole series. Give it a look--and you might be hooked, too."
"Houston Noir is a great collection of fourteen noir mysteries in the always reliable, always intriguing Akashic Noir series. This collection was edited by Gwendolyn Zepeda who did a bang-up job of selecting writers and encouraging them to great noir."
--Tonstant Weader Reviews