Noir is all about retro styling from the forties and fifties: booze, broads and wise guys in Fedoras. It is not one would think, the most obvious medium for a video game.
The brave souls at Rockstar Games think otherwise and they have bravely launched a monster noir title LA Noire. Jim Ellroy’s mouthpiece lawyers must be spinning in their caskets right about now.
Rockstar are to be applauded for their foray into the world of noir, but Crimezine’s darkest fears on the subject were confirmed, when we knocked on our basement door and consulted our pet teenager for his monosyllabic opinion on the new release. Any space aliens in it? opined the large thumbed one gruffly, before turning back to his control consul.
This we fear, is the reception that Rockstar will face, when trying to tempt the creatures so charmingly referred to as the younger generation from their usual diet of shoot ’em up fodder.
For those of us whom the world of computer gaming is more densely enigmatic than a Raymond Chandler meets James Joyce collaboration, there has been an LA Noir book released featuring Noir stories from Duane Swierczynski, Joe R. Lansdale, Lawrence Block Jonathan Santlofer and a number of other exponents of the modern noir genre. Tempting.
But if you really want to dip into a collection of true noir, you should treat yourself to the monster Best American Noir of the Century, edited by James Ellroy and Otto Penzler, here you will find a collection of work by the noir writers who defined the genre, including: James M. Cain, Mickey Spillane and Evan Hunter. along with Elmore Leonard, Patricia Highsmith, Joyce Carol Oates, Dennis Lehane, and William Gay.
Why not buy both and if you have any pennies left from buying Lawrence Block’s excellent Drop of the Hard Stuff you can treat yourself to a bottle of bourbon and a pack of filter free. This ain’t a genre for the kiddies bub.
The Best American Noir of the Century, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ISBN-13: 9780547330778