Edited by Colin Channer
Akashic Books: 285 pp; $15.95 trade paper original
Starting in 2004 with "Brooklyn Noir," the more than 50 titles in the Akashic Books series of
Add to that list of crime impresarios Colin Channer, editor of "Kingston Noir." Born in Kingston and raised there until he was 19, Channer has an obvious affection for this "liquor-loving, music-maddened, seafood smitten, class-addicted place." So too do "Kingston Noir's" 11 contributors, most of whom are Jamaican born and who, while not considered genre writers, were chosen to illuminate what Channer calls the city's "turbulent dynamics, with the way its boundaries of color, class, race, gender, ideology, and sexual privilege crisscross like storm-tangled power lines."
The first part, "Hard Road to Travel," borrows its title from a 1970s
"Kingston Noir" subverts the simplistic sunshine/reggae/spliff-smoking image of Jamaica at almost every turn, none more powerfully than in "Immaculate," Marlon James' story that closes Part 2, its title taken from the
Channer's "Monkey Man" is the last story in Part 3, its title taken from a Maytals song. "Monkey Man" mixes together factual elements of the Jamaican music scene of the 1970s, with a liberal dash of the gangster elements that tried to control it. The tale of a white woman kidnapped while working on a
Although "Kingston Noir" makes no concessions to those unfamiliar with Jamaican idioms or history by including a glossary of terms or a timeline of events, the collection amply rewards the reader with a rich interplay of geographies and themes that Channer imagined at the outset but which also echoes Chandler's observation of Los Angeles' noir milieu: "The streets were dark with something more than night."