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Santa Cruz Noir

Written by: Susie Bright - editor
Length: 8 hrs and 40 mins

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Publisher's Summary

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. Following in the footsteps of Los Angeles Noir, San Francisco Noir, San Diego Noir, Orange County Noir, and Oakland Noir, this new volume further reveals the seedy underbelly of the Left Coast. 

Brand-new stories by: Tommy Moore, Jessica Breheny, Naomi Hirahara, Calvin McMillin, Liza Monroy, Elizabeth McKenzie, Jill Wolfson, Ariel Gore, Jon Bailiff, Maceo Montoya, Micah Perks, Seana Graham, Vinnie Hansen, Peggy Townsend, Margaret Elysia Garcia, Lou Mathews, Lee Quarnstrom, Dillon Kaiser, Beth Lisick, and Wallace Baine. 

From the introduction by Susie Bright: 

Every town has its noir-ville. It's easy to find in Santa Cruz. We live in what’s called "paradise", where you can wake up in a pool of blood with the first pink rays of the sunrise peeking out over our mountain range. The dewy mist lifts from the bay. Don't hate us because we're beautiful - we were made that way, like Venus rising off the foam with a brick in her hand. We can't help it if you fall for it every time.... 

"If I lived in a place like this," visitors often say, "I'd wake up with a smile every day." 

Oh, we do, thank you for that. There's no beauty like a merciless beauty - and like every crepuscular predator, she thrives at dawn and dusk. You're just the innocent we've been waiting for, with your big paper cone of sugar-shark cotton, whipped out of pure nothing. We have just the ride for you, the longest tunnel ever. Santa Cruz is everything you ever dreamed, and everything you ever screamed, in one long drop you'll never forget.

Full cast of narrators includes: James Patrick Cronin, Richard Ferrone, Susie Bright, Beth Lisick, Liza Monroy, Bailey Carr, Florence Cuddihy, Dan Bittner, P. J. Ochlan, Jon Bailiff, Derek Stephen Prince, Eliza Foss, Almarie Guerra, Therese Plummer, Michael Crouch, Nick Sullivan, Allison Hiroto, and Thom Rivera.  

©2018 Akashic Books (P)2018 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Bright joins the ranks of Akashic editors to rip the lid off the California coastal town that's never seemed less laid-back." (Kirkus Reviews)

"A few [stories] spotlight surfing, a few more feature psycho killers on the loose, and others offer magical overtones." (Publishers Weekly)

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  • Marga Gomez
  • 18-06-18

Dead On!

I knew I'd love this collection, being a fan of the noir genre and of Santa Cruz. The writers do not shy away from the dark side, twists, turns and irony. The narrators and audio quality are also top notch. Thank you Editor Bright for casting a good amount of women voice actors in this anthology. The stories are fun, moody and take you inside this special town.

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  • Proof Tree
  • 29-06-18

A Collection of Dark Stories

The definition (from the Oxford English Dictionary) of Noir is "a genre of crime fiction characterized by cynicism, fatalism, and moral ambiguity." Most of the stories in this book are not be crime fiction, but each have a strong dose of cynicism, fatalism and moral ambiguity.

If you want stories with happy endings or were people struggle to overcome their bad situations, this book is not for you.

Almost all of the stories are told from one character's point of view, which is often biased and self serving. The situations in these stories start out bad and through the lead character's actions get worse.

My favorite is the last, "It follows Until it Leads."

All of the narrators each give good performances.

Full disclosure: in the editor's podcast she asked for people to listen to the book and post a review in return for a free credit. It had not been for that offer, I would have only listened to it once. After the second and third listening, I gained more appreciation for each story.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 24-06-18

Noir City

It has been a long wait for a new anthology from Susie Bright. Since I've began reading BAE over twenty years ago, I would read pretty much any anthology Susie put together. The Noir series from Akashic takes a geographic location and plumbs the noir-istic depths of the locale.

Santa Cruz having shown up in the vampire lore of The Lost Boys, the stories in this collection, like the movie, look for the dark underneath the surf and sun. Combined that with the history of Santa Cruz as the murder capital of the world due to a couple of serial killers in the 1970s and Santa Cruz is a great noir setting. Many of the stories in the collection played off this historical contrast of Surf City and Murder City.

It wasn't really spoken directly in the stories, but I found it interesting how socio-economics played out in the conceptions of noir in Santa Cruz. Many of the stories hung around the immigrant and agricultural populations, including bleed over from more agricultural areas. You could spend a lot of time just on the socio-economics of noir horror.

Probably my favorite story in the collection was Treasure Island, but that could be because we have a neighborhood website in our area and I feel that creeping curmudgeon sneaking up on me.

Like all collections, there are stories you connect with and those you don't. This is also similar when you have a group of narrators. This is the price of variety, but the quality of the editorial combining of the stories adds to the overall excellence of this collection.