True North Noir: Mysteries in the Mean Streets

August 31, 2011 | Viveca

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Crime on Cote de NeigeAre you left mystified by detectives who knit? Or bake? Who are cats? If you prefer your hero to access their inner Marlowe or Warshawski rather than whip up a batch of muffins, here are some great reads by Canadian authors.  The North York Central Library has large mystery collections in the Browsery and in the Languages, Literature and Fine Arts Department.  Ask a librarian for recommendations. 

I'll be the first to point out that this list is certainly Toronto-centric. Any good hard-boiled reads from other cities?  Please share.

The Guilty Plea by Robert Rotenberg. Detective Ari Greene investigates murder in a corrupt family dynasty.  Also, check out his critically-acclaimed debut, Old City Hall. Rotenberg is a Toronto-based criminal lawyer and writer.  You can track Det. Greene's Toronto here. Reserve your copies now - they are extremely popular.

The City Man by Howard Akler. Set in Depression-era Toronto, this noir deftly conjures up the underworld of Toronto past with the grifters and pickpockets who worked Union Station. Nominated for a Toronto Book Award. You will go out and purchase a fedora after reading this.  Akler is also the co-author of Toronto: the Unknown City, which is a must-read for all Torontonians who think they know their city.

Toronto Noir  from the Akashic Noir City Series. A collection of dark short stories set in Toronto by authors including Ibi Kaslik, Peter Robinson, Heather Birrell, Raywat Deonandad, Gail Bowen, Emily Schultz, Kim Moritsugu, Pasha Malla, and Michael Redhill.

Crang Plays the Ace by Jack Batten.  Crang is a streetsmart criminal lawyer working on Queen Street with an extremely seedy clientele. Batten, a former lawayer, is a well-known Toronto journalist.

In Plain Sight by Mike Knowles.  Wilson is a mob-enforcer in Hamilton. Author Greg Rucka describes these books as "hard-boiled, hard-edged, hard-core" - and his prose has been compared to the master of noir, Jim Thompson.

Swap by John McFetridge. Mobsters, hookers, massage parlours and shady cops form the landscape in McFetridges' novels set in Toronto.  Definitely not Toronto the Good.

Red Rover by Liz Bugg.  A new gay-postive series featuring private eye, Calli Barnow. Click here for the novel's Toronto locations.  Read the Globe review here.

The Crime on Cote des Neiges by David Montrose.  During the 1950s, Charles Ross Graham (under the name 'David Montrose' ) wrote Spillane-inspired pulp fiction set in Montreal featuring P.I Russell Teed.


Toronto NoirCity Man Book CoverIn_Plain_Sight_4c7981b38950aCrang Plays the Ace Book CoverGuilty PleaSwap