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Friday, November 18, 2016

“Sunshine Noir” Edited by Annamaria Alfieri & Michael Stanley

by Kathleen Costa

Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of the review.

“The Darkest Shadows are Where the Sun is Brightest.”

The editors and contributors, Annamarie Alfieri and Michael Stanley, take exception to the premise that crime fiction is best illustrated in the ‘Nordic Noir’ style where the northern settings and severe environments best magnify the dark themes and complexity of the characters. Their idea contradicts the proponents knowing that the “shadows are the darkest where the sun is brightest.” They believe that the sunny ‘climes’ can be just as “grim, more varied in plot and character, and richer in entertainment.”

I agree. With environments ranging from deep in Africa to bordering the Mediterranean from Asia to the West Indies, these seventeen authors take us deep into the heat to shine on the underbelly of crime and misfortune. The stories are short in length, but not in substance. Some of the stories are straight forward, some leave closure up to your imagination and some twist about leaving you with an “Oh, my!” on your lips. Beware of some adult themes and tone of several of the short stories, but do not shy away from this reading adventure. The writing is superb and engaging, wetting one’s appetite to explore more from each author. Check out the back of the book where each contributor is introduced including their social media sites to join in as a ‘fan.’

Sunshine Noir earns 5/5 SPF 50 Sunscreen Tubes and a Pitcher of Ice-cold Lemonade!

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These short synopses provide an overview of what awaits the adventurous reader.

“Extreme Heat” by Robert Wilson, engulfs our senses as Jonny Sparks is looking for a different challenge in his life. He says no to New York, goodbye to his family and starts his hitchhiking adventure from London to Cape Town. He got a late start; the big tourist march south has wound down leaving very few opportunities. What could possibly go wrong?

“Blue Nile” by Paul Hardisty, follows a young engineer working to repair pipes on a large dam project to maintain the flow of electricity. However, violent rebels are preparing to cross the Blue Nile. Will he be caught in the middle of a civil war?

“The Assassination” by Leye Adenle, details Otunba’s refusal to forego a run for office or step down from his position unless he is reimbursed his expenses. He shows some concern for the possibility the opposition may take drastic measures and peripheral conversations lead one to believe a plan is being hatched. Will he be able to outsmart the opposition…?

“Chronos and Kairos” by Jason Goodwin, refers to Chronos, depicted as Father Time, and Kairos, the Greek word for the right or opportune moment. In Istanbul, Yashim holds dear his new watch, an object he is mesmerized by since his culture often just ‘feels’ the time. However, he

discovers ‘the opportune time,’ measured more accurately by his new ‘chronoscopic’ friend, is the key to solving a murder.

“The Woman of His Heart” by Nick Sweet, travels to Seville where Inspector Jefe Velázquez is in turmoil over the kidnapping of his girlfriend. The ransom is not money, but a DVD that implicates a government official in a horrific assault. Can he save her life as he is pitted between rival criminal gangs?

“Snake Skin” by Ovidia Yu, takes us to Singapore with breaking news of a destructive house fire and unfortunate casualties. What continues is the flashback of Marie who has been summoned to her father’s side. Meeting her father’s new, young Thai wife and learning of their plans to move from her mother’s house, the family dynamic is explored. Was the fire deliberate? Is this the closure someone needed?

Image source: White Sun Books

“Corpus Crispy” by Tamar Myers, heats up in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona with Assistant Professor Delbert Finkter objecting to the Catch-22 of the publishing industry. Stuck teaching students with whom he holds a measurable contempt, he sets to critique the short story of a septuagenarian auditing his creative writing class. He questions her skill, her knowledge and her right to be in his class. Will she be able to move past his abuse?

“The Sultan Rules Mombasa” by Annamaria Alfieri, turns the clock back to 1912 Kenya. Lady Vera Tolliver, wife of a second-born aristocrat turned policeman, laments the stifling mores of the British and constraints placed on young British women. She becomes alarmed when a close friend appears frantic that her younger sister has tried to break the reins of society in favor of her heart. Will their search uncover the young girl’s whereabouts? Or will the African heat disguise a dark secret?

“Pale Yellow Sun” by Richie Narvaez, spins a tale of a robbery in the heat of a Puerto Rican afternoon. Señora Olga Lopez is desperate to locate the crystal golf trophy that could help sway a new investor and spark economic growth. How far would she go to see it returned?

“The Logistics of Revenge” by Susan Froetschel, puts us in the Middle East traveling with a convoy of aide workers on their way to help refugees awaiting transfer to Zaatari. But, as many fear, the convoy is attacked and the aide workers are kidnapped, separated from each other and one struggles for her life. Can she survive the heat, the sand, the uncertainty?

“Housecleaning” by Greg Herren, sweeps us away to New Orleans drenched in the heat and humidity. A young man reminisces about his mother and his somewhat nomadic life, never staying put too long in any one place. What connections do mothers have with their sons? What connections do sons have with their mothers? The complications sometimes are resolved.

“Someone’s Moved the Sun” by Jeffrey Siger, is amidst the whitewashed buildings of a Greek Island steaming with heat and crowded with tourists. Toni, known for being able to find misappropriated things from hotel rooms and vacation homes, takes on a questionable case. Missing a backpack with money and jewelry, but he has a feeling there’s more to it than that. Will the new
Balkan gang prove difficult…physically difficult? Or will the missing items turn out to be more trouble than they’re worth?

“The Freemason Friends” by Timothy Williams, moves from an Ontario, Canada, winter to the heat and humidity of the Caribbean with Anne-Marie seeking to leave the disappointments with her daughter to visit a dear friend. The friend? Hiding. Why? Suspected of murder.

“Spirits” by Michael Stanley, heats up in New Xade with not even the slightest breeze coming across the Kalahari. Constable Ixau is called to help. Q’ema’s father is ill, possessed. He rants that he walks with the spirits and Yuseb is in grave danger. When Yuseb ends up dead, the investigation takes on an eerie tone.

“The Man in Prampram” by Kwei Quartey, moves to Ghana, hot, incessantly hot Ghana. Due to serious health issues, Patrik Blom, a native of Sweden, moves to warmer climates. In a tourist-filled beach community he is hiding, wanted by the police, suspected of fraud, identity theft and murder. The police get a break in their search, the family back home have an urgent need and the possibility of revenge may bring closure. Where can he hide now?

“The Cigarette Dandy” by Barbara Nadel, burns almost with an unbearable heat for Inspector Cetin Ikmen of the Istanbul Police. He is called to investigate the death of a man known to many as the Cigarette Dandy. Viciously mutilated, the victim’s connection to the Sulukule gypsies becomes a key line of inquiry, but they would have to talk to Papatya hanim, a witch. Will this be the answer Ikmen needs? What secrets can be told?

“When You Wish Upon a Star” by Colin Cotterill, has Mr. Grabong making a wish on a shooting star in the Lang Suan night sky. Muggy, thick with lights and exhaust, he has carried this wish in his mind knowing he had to make it quick; four-seconds was all he had. Not every wish blooms, but Mr. Grabong was lucky…or was he? A young reporter is sent to investigate an ‘accident,’ and sees that things just don’t add up for her. What connections can she find?

To enter to win a copy of Sunshine Noir, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “sunshine,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen November 26, 2016. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address.

Kathleen Costa is a long-time resident of the Central Valley, and although born in Idaho, she considers herself a “California Girl.” Graduating from CSU-Sacramento, she is 35+ year veteran teacher having taught in grades 1-8 in schools from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Stockton to Lodi. Currently Kathleen is enjoying year 2 of retirement revitalizing hobbies along with exploring writing, reading for pleasure, and spending 24/7 with her husband of 26+ years.

KRL receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.