McNally Jackson is best known for its excellent selection of literary fiction, especially its many shelves devoted to translated literature where books are separated by the author’s country of origin. What isn’t as widely known is their mystery section located downstairs. Among the crime novels are some great noir titles. Here’s what caught our eye:
Ever since Melville House released Derek Raymond’s Factory Series, five crime novels set in Margaret Thatcher’s London, they’ve been on my must-read list. Whenever I see their orange covers with their awesome images, I grab them off the shelf, read the jacket copy, toss them from hand to hand, and hold them up for another look.
Until now, I’ve let myself get sidetracked by other titles but the tipping point came this weekend when, on the most recent episode of the Three Percent podcast, New Directions’ Publicity and Marketing Director, Tom Roberge, mentioned he’d just read the first in the series, He Died with His Eyes Open. He said they are the “darkest noir novels he’s ever read” and that the first one was “pretty fantastic.”
He Died with His Eyes Open is an “unflinching yet deeply compassionate portrait of a city plagued by poverty and perversion and a policeman who may be the only one who cares about the ‘people who don’t matter and who never did.’” (Melville House)
These days I am just as likely to the read modern literary noir of authors like Laura Lippman, James Ellroy, and Megan Abbott, but my favorite crime writer has long been George Pelecanos. Stephen King agrees, and has called him “perhaps the greatest living American crime writer.”
The Cut is the first novel in a series that features Iraq war veteran Spero Lucas, a conflicted and unlicensed private detective drawn in the spare, stark prose that has become a Pelecanos trademark.