The Mysterious Bookshop

Channer, Colin, Kingston Noir

Publishers Weekly
Akashic's latest in its series of city-specific noir anthologies (beginning with Brooklyn Noir and eventually moving overseas to include Moscow, Haiti, and many more) explores Kingston's "turbulent dynamics, the way its boundaries of color, class, race, gender, ideology, and sexual privilege crisscross like storm-tangled power lines" through 11 original stories. Editor and Kingston native Channer lays out his perception of his hometown's culture, which he likens to that of New Orleans, "its cultural cousin on the Mississippi," in his too-brief introduction (which could use some background history regarding Jamaican crime writers) as "liquor-loving, music-maddened, seafood-smitten, class-addicted," and that image comes through loud and clear in these thoroughly well-written stories. Of them all, Kei Miller's powerful "The White Gyal with the Camera," about a naïve photographer's sojourn in one of the city's grittiest neighborhoods, August Town, is most likely to linger in readers' memories. The collection, which features many stories that seem to stop before they're finished, doesn't live up to Channer's hope that it be "nothing less than a classic," but fans of noir will still enjoy this batch of sordid tales set in the sweltering heat of the tropics.