Halloween Bingo: Noir

The last of my top row squares is Noir, an  updated square that combines Classic & Modern Noir into a single category: mystery with noir elements, including authors like Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, James Ellroy, Ian Rankin, Michael Connelly, Henning Mankell, and anything that is described as Nordic Noir, Tartan Noir, Granite Noir, etc. Noir itself is defined by Wikipedia as “a subgenre of crime fiction. In this subgenre, right and wrong are not clearly defined, while the protagonists are seriously and often tragically flawed.”

I myself am rather a fan of noir crime fiction. In one of my favorites modern noir series, the protagonist of Michael Connelly’s long-running series, Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch, provides an example of the use of a flawed protagonist. Harry is a veteran detective with the LAPD, insubordinate, aggressive, and a brilliant investigator. He is passionate about justice – everybody counts or nobody counts is his motto – but doesn’t mind cutting a few corners on the way there. He is also deeply damaged, the son of a prostitute who grew up in foster care after his mother was murdered – a murder that went unsolved for decades. While he sees murder in black and white, there are a lot of shades of gray in these books.

Connelly uses Los Angeles as another character in the novels, and something about Southern California seems to lend itself to the noir sensibility. Los Angeles is the birthplace of the classic noir crime novel, which features hardboiled P.I.s like Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade, operating in the shadowy confluence between the glitter and glamour of wealthy L.A. and the dark and sometimes grim underworld of drug dealers, prostitutes and violence operating just under the surface.

In past Halloween Bingo games, I’ve filled various spaces, including Classic Noir, Modern Noir, and other mystery squares with this type of book:

  • The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo
  • The Bride Wore Black by Cornell Woolrich
  • Fallen by Karin Slaughter
  • Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
  • Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

I recall being underwhelmed by the Nesbo book – so much so that I’ve never gone back to try another. The Bride Wore Black, by Cornell Woolrich, was a highlight of the year that I read it. I still remember how atmospheric it was and the twist, while not quite as shocking to today’s sensibilities as it was when this book was published, was still startling. I’ve read a lot of Karin Slaughter over the years, and while I do enjoy her plots, sometimes the violence, and especially the sexual violence, that permeates her books can be too much. Fallen is the fifth book in her Will Trent series, set in Atlanta, Georgia. Dark Places and Sharp Objects may or may not truly qualify as noir, being more consistent with psychological thrillers. But Gillian Flynn’s imagination is a dark place, indeed.

This year, I will be choosing from

I recently started reading Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe books. This year so far, I’ve read The High Window and The Lady in the Lake. I’m pretty sure that I will fill this square with one of my remaining installments in the series, possibly the first, The Big Sleep. Alternatively, I am considering one of the Lew Archer mysteries, by Ross Macdonald, or, if I decide on a more modern selection, I have the fifth Dublin Murder Squad book, The Secret Place by Tana French, available.

I’ll be working through Row 2 of my card next.

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