Noir City Varsity

San Francisco Mysteries

The  title is a misnomer, but it sure sounds nice.  Actually,  noir fiction was once a fraternity but it’s fast becoming a kick-ass sorority. Writers like Marcia Muller, Kelli Stanley, Megan Abbott, Laura Lippman, Edna Buchanan, and  Chelsea Cain (to name just a few) can hard-boil text as good as any Joe you know. These dames are killer.

And two of my favorite females have new novels set in Fog City—the heart of noir.

City of Whispers by Marcia Muller

City of Secrets by Kelli Stanley

* * *

Meanwhile, City Lights in San Francisco has just published a new book in their “Noir” series:

Los Angeles Stories - City Lights Noir

Ry Cooder’s stories are a mix of jazz and murder set in L.A. 

Los Angeles Stories sounds promising…I’ll have more to say soon.

In Praise of a Hard-Boiled Dame

Zoom Street Photo

Miranda shrugged, and crushed the cigarette butt under her pump. Back to Sacramento, start again. She turned down Grant, and almost ran into one of the downtown beat cops.

“Well, well. Miranda Corbie.”

Red face on a short, stout neck. Doyle always reminded her of a bordello lamp. She tried to sidestep him. He extended a beefy arm out and held it against her shoulder.

“I hear you were at the Hall yesterday. As a witness.”

“Then your ears still work. Let me go.”

He leaned closer, all bad breath and stale beer.

“I hear a lot. I hear you rode Phil pretty hard. The lieutenant’s tryin’ to protect you. It’s good of him. Too good.”

She shrugged her shoulders. His arm stayed in place. She reached over with her right hand and flung it off.

“He can quit being a saint any goddamn time he wants. I don’t need the fucking missionary act, Doyle—from him, you, or anybody else.”

 

That’s tough talk from a tough dame.

And you won’t find better, tighter, pitch-perfect, stick-in-the-eye dialogue than that. The writer is Kelli Stanley and the excerpt is from her novel, City of Dragons (Minotaur Books), which made its debut last year to the delight of hard-boiled addicts. Billed as “A San Francisco Mystery,” I was cautious at first, because a lot of regional mysteries aren’t worth their weight in pulp.

But then I read the first sentence:

Miranda didn’t hear the sound he made when his face hit the sidewalk.

I was hooked. Right off the bar stool I knew Miranda Corbie was here to stay.

Stanley is a helluva writer. She brings her characters (as well as Fog City in the 1940s) to life.  Make that larger than life.  She drops the little details that make San Francisco loom above the page like a pop-up book. As for Miranda Corbie… she’s hell in heels. A PI with killer  curves and a smile that could  charm a thug on his way to the gas chamber. She’s fast with a wisecrack; determined to crack the case when the odds are stacked against her.

Minotaur Books brings us more reasons to cheer.

 

city_of_secrets

City of Secrets has arrived in time for the rain in northern California.

No matter where you live you’ll enjoy this hard-boiled trip back in time.

Word of Caution:

If you’ve quit smoking these novels will have you on your knees scrounging for these…

smokes

Headers Away

Observant readers will have noticed a change in the above banner. This reflects the new masthead for Zoom Street which will appear online in January, 2012.

The main difference is the absence of the branded camera (no offence to Nikon) and the addition of the San Francisco skyline. The Coronado bridge remains at right, so we’re spanning northern and southern California. This is fitting because ZS was born on Coronado.

A new tagline reflects our expanded coverage of art & culture, including a special affection for all things noir.

So there you have it…a sneak peek at next year’s design.

masthead2012

Happy 4th of July!

flag_bg

In the spirit of the coming holiday I reached into the archives and plucked out a few flag photos from the past.

For starters, this refection shot in San Francisco’s Chinatown (2010):

photo by Derek Pell

photo by Derek Pell

photo by Derek Pell

photo by Derek Pell

photo by Derek Pell

flag

More flags here

All Cams on Deck

photo by Derek Pell

Here’s a hand-held shot of the wraparound deck at Zoom Street.

Feels like San Francisco, without the fog.

A great view during the day, while at night the windows look out on twinkling lights from houses in the hills.

Atmosphere in spades.