The Best American Noir of the Century by James Ellroy & Otto Penzler

82%

9 Critic Reviews

Spoilt for choice is an understatement when trying to pick a favorite story from all the gems on offer. The selection is uniformly impressive.
-NY Journal of Books

Synopsis

James Ellroy and Otto Penzler mined the past century to find this treasure trove of thirty-nine stories. From noir’s twenties-era infancy come gems like James M. Cain’s “Pastorale,” and its postwar heyday boasts giants like Mickey Spillane and Evan Hunter. Packing an undeniable punch, diverse contemporary incarnations include Elmore Leonard, Patricia Highsmith, Joyce Carol Oates, Dennis Lehane, and William Gay, with many page-turners appearing from the past decade.
 

About James Ellroy & Otto Penzler

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James Ellroy was born in Los Angeles in 1948. His L.A. Quartet novels-The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential, and White Jazz-were international best sellers. His novel American Tabloid was Time magazine's Best Book (fiction) of 1995; his memoir, My Dark Places, was a Time Best Book of the Year and a New York Times Notable Book for 1996. His novel The Cold Six Thousand was a New York Times Notable Book and a Los Angeles Times Best Book for 2001. Ellroy lives in Los Angeles.
 
Published October 4, 2011 by Mariner Books. 755 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Best American Noir of the Century
All: 9 | Positive: 9 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Above average
on Aug 02 2010

Most of the others are worth your time as well—unless, or maybe even if, you’ve already caught them in previous Penzlers.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Dec 26 2016

All the contributors excel at showing the omnipresence of the dark side of humanity in many different times and locales.

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NY Journal of Books

Good
Reviewed by Sam Millar on Dec 19 2016

Spoilt for choice is an understatement when trying to pick a favorite story from all the gems on offer. The selection is uniformly impressive.

Read Full Review of The Best American Noir of the... | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

NY Journal of Books

Excellent
Reviewed by Sam Millar on Dec 11 2016

Well worth its impressive weight in gold, it would be a crime not to have this seminal masterpiece in your collection.

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Book Reporter

Good
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on Jan 05 2011

At some point I would like to see a collection devoted to noir short fiction on an international scale, but Penzler and Ellroy have certainly provided a grand sampling here, of which I have only scratched the surface. The introduction given to each story also provides enough reference to keep anyone busy for years...

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PopMatters

Good
Reviewed by OLIVER HO on Feb 20 2011

While it would have been interesting for more insights from Penzler and Ellroy regarding the development of noir fiction over the century, that doesn’t seem to be the point of this anthology. The point is the “skeevy” fun that accompanies these doom-filled tales.

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PopMatters

Good
Reviewed by OLIVER HO on Feb 20 2011

While it would have been interesting for more insights from Penzler and Ellroy regarding the development of noir fiction over the century, that doesn’t seem to be the point of this anthology. The point is the “skeevy” fun that accompanies these doom-filled tales.

Read Full Review of The Best American Noir of the...

MostlyFiction Book Reviews

Above average
Reviewed by Guy Savage on Jan 16 2011

There are a total of 39 stories here, and the preponderance falls towards the end of the twentieth century–just 12 before 1960. This selection may bother some readers who perhaps hoped for more classic noir from the 40s and 50s, but since I view collections as a great way to pick up names I’d never have found otherwise, it’s all fine by me.

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National Post arts

Good
Reviewed by Philip Marchand on Oct 29 2010

Ellroy, in his introduction, adds to the chorus of hard-boiled chuckles. “Doom is fun,” he informs the reader. “You’re a perv for reading this introduction.”

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Reader Rating for The Best American Noir of the Century
76%

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