Women of the Mean Streets: Lesbian Noir – Jean Redmann and Greg Herren, eds. (Bold Strokes Books)

Buy it now direct from Bold Strokes Books

A few weeks ago, we reviewed Redmann and Herren’s “Men of
the Mean Streets” and found it to be a lean, luscious page turner. Its lesbian
counterpart is every bit its equal, tweaking and twisting traditional
male-dominated private dicks while retaining the trappings and (admittedly)
loose conventions of noir.

This anthology reeks of wet gutters, getaway car exhaust,
and Chanel No. 9, starting out with Laura Lippmann’s “A.R.M. and the Woman,” a
chilling tale of emotional economics as practiced by Sally, a supremely wrought
noir heroine—beautiful, calculating and sociopathic. But no more so than Ava
Tanner, the masterful architect of Gordon Chesney’s frame in Lori Lake’s
frighteningly possible “Den of Iniquity.”

Carsen Taite changes up the heroines, moving to the other
side of the law with her bounty hunter Luca Bennett in “Boomerang,” a nicely
told detective yarn. But as fun as the mystery and intrigue and dicks-chasing-dames
noir is, there are many sides to the genre. Miranda Kent thirteen-year-old
narrator in “Some Kind of Killing” has a refreshing voice freed from those
constrictions to tell a horrific story of madness and murder and Victoria A.
Brownworth uses a wonderfully distant point of view (many of these stories are
first person) to intensify the brutal manner in which Muriel’s mother comes to
her end in “The Darkest Night of the Year.”

Stage manager Hattie Parker gives us all the backstage
gossip on diva Edna Powell’s death in Clifford Henderson’s neatly-turned
“Anything for the Theatre.” Going back to a more classic noir vein, Kendra
Sennett’s “Social Work” sees gullible student social worker Megan fall in blind
love with shady older lady Amanda, with tragic results. In Redmann’s own New
Orleans-soaked “Lost,” P.I. Michele investigates her cousin Bayard’s
disappearance and Diane Anderson-Minshall’s “Chasing Athena” proves to be a
rollicking ride as Parker pursues her dream girl from city to city before
learning a bitter lesson she knew all along.

These, however, are just a few of my favorites. This
companion volume to Men of the Mean Streets is just as entertaining,
with diverse and highly original work that’s sure to feed your need for the
darker side of crime.

Reviewed by Jerry Wheeler 

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