This sale extends to both Issues No. 1 and No. 2. If you have been putting off downloading Noir Nation because of cost concerns, now is the time. At $3 each, this is the best value in international crime fiction.
Noir Nation is pleased to announce the release of Jonathan Sturak’s novel Vegas Was Her Name. Sturak grew up in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. A Penn State University graduate with degrees in Computer Science and Film, he currently lives in Las Vegas, where he uses the energy of the city to craft stories about life and the human condition.
“The Place Called Home,” Sturak’s essay about Eastern European heritage in Northeast PA, was featured on Glass Cases, associate literary agent Sarah LaPolla’s pop culture blog at glasscasesblog.blogspot.com. He is also a Noir Nation contributing editor. His debut thriller novel Clouded Rainbow was published in December 2009 and has over 100,000 downloads on the Amazon Kindle. More information about him is available on his website at sturak.com.
Vegas Was Her Name concerns Michael Harris, CEO of an engineering company. At the world’s largest technology convention in Las Vegas, Harris debuts Venus, a humanized computer brain that can predict human behavior. He attracts international attention, including the attention of Rachel, a steamy seducer who cons Michael by concealing a secret of her own. Melissa, Michael’s wife, flies to Las Vegas to save her husband and her marriage as the events unfold in the shadows of the Las Vegas Strip.
A real potboiler! Available now on Amazon.
Nordic is mainstream these days. It’s not that long since Nordic crime fiction was strictly a minority genre, at least in English. It’s not the same in Europe, where German publishers in particular have been rather more ready to translate obscure fiction from the chilly north.
Until a few years ago a smallish band of connoisseurs appreciated translations of Sjöwall & Wahlöö and a few other obscure writers who never made it anywhere near a bestseller list in Britain or the US.
Then came Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow, followed the Wallender books and finally by Stieg Larsson’s trilogy that took the world by surprise and by storm. Who would have expected it? I won’t say too much about Stieg Larsson’s work, partly because The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is still only halfway to the top of my to-be-read pile, along with so much else.
Since then we have had The Killing, Borgen, The Bridge, and a bunch of other stuff that has come out of Sweden, Norway and Denmark, on top of the flood of books by Nordic authors snapped up with indecent haste by publishers hearing the rattle of a bandwagon disappearing into the distance.
Then there’s the tiny band of Nordic pretenders, not even half a dozen of us who write Nordic crime stuff but without being born-and-bred Scandies ourselves; James Thompson, Michael Ridpath, Jan Costin Wagner, Torquil Macleod – and me.
I’m wondering if Scandi crime fatigue started to kick in? Have you seen someone rolling their eyes at the sight of yet another middle-aged Swedish detective or a hard-drinking Norwegian private eye or a Faroese sweater? Has Nordic peaked?
I don’t think it has yet, and I hope not… I have one of these of my own coming out in a day or two, and a good few more ideas simmering on the back burner for future reference. Some us live in terror that crime readers will tire of Nordic mysteries in the face of what looks dangerously like overkill. Not that the flow of Nordic crime yet shows any sign of abating – quite the contrary. While every Swede who has ever set finger to keyboard appears to have been translated, there are Norwegian, Icelandic, Danish and Finnish crime writers, plus a solitary Faroese, who haven’t yet been graced with a translation yet.
So what comes next? The truth of the matter is that there is stacks of good stuff out there that hasn’t caught on yet. We’ve heard of Emerald Noir, the emerging wave of Irish crime fiction writers, who have the big advantage that they don’t need translating. The same applies to Aussie crime, and proper gritty old stuff it is as well.
Germany is a huge and hungry market for crime fiction, as shown by the vast swathes of English, American and Nordic crime fiction translated in to German. But who knew that there’s a whole raft of homegrown German crime fiction that isn’t translated into English? Maybe it doesn’t translate well? I don’t know.
Then there’s the French. France loves les polars, and they’re starting to cross the Channel, some brought to us by the same canny publisher who brought us Miss Smilla, Wallender and Lisbeth Salander. Napoleon’s Grande Armée stopped at Boulogne, turned around and marched off to Austerlitz instead, but the French crime writers aren’t letting La Manche stop them.
It’s time to think ahead for untrodden ground. Chilean crime? Difficult, but worth thinking about. Mongolian murders? Maybe not. Ulan Bator’s bloody cold and it’s a long way to go for research. Nigerian Noir? Sounds good, but it’s unlikely a fiction writer could even come close to topping reality there. North Korea? Let’s not even think about that one.
In fact it’s hardly possible to put a finger on a relatively accessible part of the world that hasn’t had a detective of its own at some point. Not to worry. I have a few aces up my sleeve. Chad, Turkmenistan and South Georgia all look like fertile ground, so I’d better start doing some research.
On second thoughts, scratch South Georgia.
A short but sweet documentary about the mafia in Sicily.
There exists a place in the middle of the desert where millions of people go every year to explore their dark sides. Included in these millions of people are individuals with roots to secret organizations called the Black Hand and La Cosa Nostra. Take an intimate tour into the underbelly of these organizations at the Mob Attraction Las Vegas inside the Tropicana Hotel. Explore the heavyweights who fostered the city of Las Vegas, exploited it, cheated it, and cultivated it to offer a playground for anyone with a secret.
In 1945 mob boss Meyer Lansky, aka the “Mob’s Accountant,” sent the charismatic Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel to stand up operations in Las Vegas. The Flamingo Hotel & Casino, a lavish resort opening in 1946 and still standing today, seduced the city with its lights and became a key element in the mob’s operations.
Part museum, part experience, the Mob Attraction features live actors who put you in the middle of the action by entrusting you to deliver a package to “Big Tony in the Café.” You decide whether you become a member of their crew or assist the police by ratting the mobsters out.
Acting icon James Caan even points you in the right direction by a clever use of holograms.
If the lights in Las Vegas draw you, GET MADE at the Mob Attraction Las Vegas inside the Tropicana!
By Eve Pearce
Hollywood has become synonymous with Film Noir, depicting it throughout its cinematic journey and reflecting the dark underbelly of American life with themes of bleakness, alienation and paranoia.
Many argue that Film Noir is a style of film making rather than a genre, and that at its heart is the story of an average man who tries and fails to beat the system and to belong to a society he ultimately feels outcast from.
The depiction of drug use has become increasingly popular Film Noir. The Maltese Falcon featured a character being drugged through drink, and The Man With The Golden Arm had Frank Sinatra playing a drug addict who attempts to live a life of reform with dire consequences. Predominantly, however, classic Film Noir followed other forms of corruption such as gangster dominance and femme fatales with a penchant for murder plots.
Contemporary Film Noir now leans towards addiction as a major theme. California is a popular location for films featuring characters battling with drug addiction, arguably because of the contrast to glitzy Hollywood.
One of the first examples of drug use in Californian based Film Noir was High School Confidential! Which was a morality play of the late 1950s. The film depicts the journey of a high school senior through the world of drugs. Tony Baker wants to succeed as a drug dealer and move to the top of the chain, but first he must outsmart the existing dealers in the area. High School Confidential! Was ultimately viewed as having a naive view of drug use, as it didn’t reveal the negative effects of drugs.
Brick (2005) is a complete contrast to this early film noir. The central character in this story, Brendan, discovers his dead girlfriend lying in a sewer tunnel and sets out to find the truth about what happened to her. Before she died, Emily told him that the word ‘Pin’ meant something to her. Brendan hides her body and investigates the drug dealers who lead him to the powerful teenage dealer, The Pin. By being accepted into the clique, Brendan discovers how Emily died, but also learns some unpleasant truths about himself.
The Southern Californian setting of Brick is a contrast to the world of drugs beneath its starchy surface and it has often been likened to the work of Raymond Chandler in its style and substance.
Blow is the story of the man who fully established the cocaine market in America during the 1970s. George Jung grows up in poverty and vows to never struggle again. He dips into dealing marijuana during the 1960s, but during a stint in prison, he discovers that cocaine will make him a wealthy man in California. Jung pays the price of his dealing, through drug addiction and a loss of reality.
Pulp Fiction is a neo Film Noir with its dark themes and characters who struggle with their morals. There are ample scenes of drug use throughout the film, most notably with the character Mia Wallace overdosing and having to be revived in a dramatic and disturbing way. Pulp Fiction takes the dark themes of classic Film Noir, predominantly those of hit men and femme fatales and introduces drug use to give the film relevance in modern day California.
Less than Zero is a dark tale of narcissism set in the 1980s in L.A and is based on the novel by Brett Easton Ellis. Clay is a college freshmen returning to his hometown in the holidays to be with his girlfriend Blair. During his absence, his best friend Julian has developed an out of control drug habit that plummets them all into a dark journey of excess and loss.
Californian Drug Use
Film noir treats drug abuse seriously and tackles the issues associated with Class A drugs in many contemporary storylines, revealing that this is an ongoing problem in California. The UCLA runs an integrated substance abuse programme called ISAP, which addresses new approaches in treatments of disorders and increases awareness and understanding of drug use and abuse. ISAP considers the social as well as health consequences for addicts and its research is ongoing. There are many California Heroin treatment programs available state wide for drug users who want to seek help.
A small informal network of New York City film and stage actors, models, directors, producers, sound & lighting & make up techs have been doing some cutting edge work in the noir genre. We call them the Media Beats.
Among their number are Philippe Keb Blanchard, Lauren Cahn, Thomas Wesson, Sarah Seeds, Audrey Lorea, Jessica Osborne and Noir Nation’s own Eddie Vega.
The Media Beats have graciously invited Noir Nation to many of their shoots and programs over the last two years because we share similar goals in advancing the genre.
Currently they have produced a socially racy play Bite Your Tongue that is running at the Theater for the New City (click here to read its first blog review, which provides a running commentary on members of the group). When they are not creating art, they are sharing fun times together; case in point, at the fundraising party at the Speakeasy on Mulberry Street in Little Italy. Click here to see a full set of images. In the meantime, here are some teasers:
The world’s funkiest beach just got freaky. Whether you’re biking from Santa Monica, walking to your favorite beach-side restaurant, or going to pump some iron, look out for the mysterious building offering a view into a world of freaks. Part museum, part live show, the Venice Beach Freakshow has lured not only brave beach goers, but producers from AMC. The show airs Thursday nights at 9:30 pm on AMC, but what’s better than watching on television? Watching it live, of course!
Bizarre stories and artifacts offer you a moment of reprieve in the museum, but the live show takes the cake. Amazing Ali, a woman the size of a yard stick, welcomes you before a man named Morgue swallows a sword.
The next act is the sexy young Asia who has a taste for fire.
The grand finale? How about a meat hook through the nose and out the mouth? Oh, and he steps into the crowd for some up close and personal contact.
The most bizarre thing of all? The item in this box. If you ignore the warning, be prepared for a sight that you’ll never forget.