Sunday, August 17, 2008

What is a Noir Mystery?


Originally, I planned to start this series with examples of modern authors who I feel write Noir Mysteries.

However, the longer I dug through my pulp fiction collection the more I knew that my decision would prove itself incorrect.

Running backwards creates blind spots, so I've altered my approach, and or direction. With that straightened out, I'll begin with early Noir writers instead.

For me, the mood of a good Noir fiction mystery should be set in the first paragraph, preferably in the first sentence. And the mood needs to be dark, emotional, and command my attention, make me desire to know more.

Nothing like: The lollipop stuck to his tongue, not until he attempted to peel it off did he realize his mistake.

Okay, maybe that wouldn't be so bad. I'd like to know more.

With that in mind, here are a few first sentence examples from early Noir writers.

It was like coming back from death.

He lay there in a silk-lined casket looking very waxy, but it was eight to five that he looked no more waxy than me.

We could see the low bone-white hotel now, its wings curving toward the sea like the base of a sun-bleached skull.

The guy was dead as hell.

It was a diamond all right, shining in the grass half a dozen feet from the blue brick walk.

The man and the girl walked slowly, close together, past a dim stencil sign that said: Surprise Hotel.

Rain. It washed the two men, slid down their raincoated bodies, and made a sea of mud at the open graves at their feet.

What stories are these from and who wrote them? Answers in the next entry, and I will include first paragraph examples. Some will be from these authors and some not.

I'm ending this with a Noir author quiz:

Who was William Irish?


Comments are welcome.

I am Noirmystery at Twitter.

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