Fic­tion

Jew­ish Noir II: Tales of Crime and Oth­er Dark Deeds

  • Review
By – August 22, 2022

Jew­ish Noir II: Tales of Crime and Oth­er Dark Deeds, as the title sug­gests, is the sec­ond book of Jew­ish Noir mys­tery sto­ries which the def­i­n­i­tion of noir tells us is a genre of crime film or fic­tion char­ac­ter­ized by cyn­i­cism, fatal­ism, and moral ambiguity.”

Short sto­ries are in a cat­e­go­ry all their own. In each of these short sto­ries the author needs to set the scene, build sus­pense and deliv­er a sat­is­fy­ing con­clu­sion for their char­ac­ters. Each of the authors in this col­lec­tion do that with integri­ty, shar­ing a moral and mak­ing their point cohesively.

This is an anthol­o­gy of short sto­ries by Jew­ish and non-Jew­ish lit­er­ary and genre mys­tery authors. Divid­ed into sec­tions that are grouped by head­ings of Lega­cies, the Amer­i­can Splen­dor, the Scat­tered and Dis­persed and A Shan­deh Far Di Goy­im (You Shame Us in Front of the World) along with oth­ers. This book is a fol­low up to the first iter­a­tion, Jew­ish Noir pub­lished in 2015.

In each sec­tion there are a vari­ety of sto­ries. There are sto­ries of crime, The Cost of Some­thing Price­less by Eliz­a­beth Zelvin about a Jew­ish woman who has inher­it­ed a beau­ti­ful price­less stolen neck­lace passed down through fam­i­ly for gen­er­a­tions. She mar­ried a non Jew­ish man in the 1950s against wish­es of both their fam­i­lies. When her hus­band starts to show his true col­ors, anti­semitism is revealed. He tries to take her inher­i­tance; she takes mat­ters into her own hands.

The Black and White Cook­ie writ­ten by Jeff Markowitz is a sto­ry about a boy who thinks the world of his father and finds out years lat­er what hap­pened the day his father stopped com­ing home after work. This is a sto­ry that is set dur­ing the civ­il rights movement.

There are the sto­ries that use dark humor, Wish­boned by Jill D Block, explores the pow­er of wish­es when two grand­moth­ers’ fight­ing over their first grand­son reach­es a cli­max on the day of his Bar Mitz­vah. Using the theme of the exploita­tion of a child’s Bar Mitz­vah to show the family’s wealth there are some humor­ous moments when you rec­og­nize the many Bar Mitz­vah par­ties you have attend­ed. The over the top par­ty and the rival grand­moth­ers, vying for their grandchild’s affection.

Joy Mahabir writes about an abu­sive rela­tion­ship in her sto­ry, Datu­ra. About a young girl who is liv­ing in an abu­sive rela­tion­ship until she finds a way to leave. She will try to go home to her mothe in Trinidad. Her par­ents had escaped there from Ger­many in 1939. She had come to Amer­i­ca to mar­ry the right man, but now she sees her mis­take. She final­ly is ready to end the hor­rif­ic marriage.

Then there are sto­ries that just seem dark like the short sto­ry by Zoe Quin­ton enti­tled, Crossover. The plot is about a young woman going to the mik­vah for her con­ver­sion meets with tragedy and the look back at why it hap­pened. The top­ic of inter­mar­riage and familes not want­i­ng an inter­mar­raige to occur and not being wel­com­ing to the new bride.

The fore­word of this book is clev­er­ly writ­ten by the famed mys­tery writer, Lawrence Block, who states it per­fect­ly, Jew­ish Noir II, a rich col­lec­tion of won­der­ful tales won­der­ful­ly told.”

Mer­le Eis­man Car­rus resides in New Hamp­shire and writes book reviews for the NH Jew­ish Reporter news­pa­per. She is a grad­u­ate of Emer­son Col­lege and received her Mas­ters of Jew­ish Stud­ies from Hebrew Col­lege. She blogs her book reviews at biteofthebookworm@​blogspot.​com

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