Akashic Books does a phenomenal job with their Noir anthologies. I originally found out about this series from Curt Colbert, a mystery writer in Seattle who edited the Seattle Noir anthology. Incidentally, Curt does a wonderful series of detective noir based in Seattle. Check out Rat City, the first in the series to get a taste of what it is all about.
Indian Country Noir did not disappoint. The book is divided into four parts representing tribal areas in the North, South, East and West of the United States and Canada. The stories all have indigenous people as the central character b ut they are by no means stereotypical.
In the section titled East, my two favorite short stories were “Dead Medicine Snake Woman” which had kind of an other worldly feel to it and “Indian Time” about a Native American Mohawk man’s custody battle with his white mother-in-law.
In South, “Daddy’s Girl” is a very entertaining detective story set in Memphis, Tennessee. I really enjoyed the marrying of two genre’s in this one. My other fave was “Juracan” which is about the indigenous population in Puerto Rico. I really loved this because it included a territory well away from the more travelled path. I had never considered or even known there was an indigenous group there. My sister-in-law is Puerto Rican and we have talked about Puerto Rico but now I have new information and questions.
I was slightly disappointed with West. It included stories set in Los Angeles, Tuscon and Montana. I lived in a state that has multiple established tribes, tribal areas and reservations. The Native Americans on the west side of my state have a history and culture completely different from the east side of the state. Not one story was set here. Nor were there any set in Alaska.
All that being said, my favorite was “Another Role”. It was one of those stories that has that little twist at the end that is just slightly reminiscent of the “Twilight Zone.” I also really enjoyed “JaneJohnDoe.com”. This covered a Navajo and a drug cartel.
Finally, there is North. “Prowling Wolves” is a great period piece covering the World War II era and “Quilt Like a Night Sky” was my favorite in this section. The northern stories were a little more forlorn than some of the others but that was fitting for the north which is kind of mournful itself.
If you haven’t read any of the Noir series books, please check them out. They are all wonderful. “Indian Country Noir” holds up and represents the franchise well. Great for readers and great for people who like to sample authors through some short stories.