By Andrea Kempf
October 15th, 2015
Short story collections of noir fiction have become extremely popular, particularly those published by Akashic. With contributions from Marge Piercy, S.J. Rozan, Stephen Jay Schwartz, and others, this compilation examines the noir side of Jewish ethnicity, primarily in the United States. Children are bullied for their religion on school playgrounds. Sexual predators among the Jewish clergy are unmasked and punished. In Heywood Gould’s “Everything Is Bashert,” when a rabbi uses Gematria—an ancient system of numerology—at the race track, he wins an enormous trifecta, but his loss is even greater. The Jewish mob is not ignored but neither are the scars of the Holocaust. Each selection is a small treasure of angst, revenge, and often evil. Eddie Muller’s “Doc’s Oscar” examines the McCarthy-era blacklist in Hollywood. Jonathan Santlofer’s “The Golem of Jericho” allows the ancient tale to become reality for a small boy whose grandfather uses his knowledge of history to protect him. In Alan Gordon’s “The Drop,” a man takes on drug dealers to avenge the death of his brother, while Rozan’s “Flowers of Shanghai” explores the miseries of the World War II Shanghai ghetto.
VERDICT Every reader will have his or her favorites, but this anthology is heartrending and spine-chilling in its entirety.