"You know what? The bastard blows me out of the water. This guy writes Maine like Ardai writes New York. If you're not reading him, you don't know what you're missing." --Chris F. Holm, author of "The Collector" series, The Killing Kind, and Red Right Hand.

"A refreshingly new voice in noir." --Ed Kurtz, author of Nothing You Can Do and The Rib From Which I Remake the World.

"A glorious boilermaker of noir and East Coast gothic. The action is taut as a sprung snare and Bagley tightens the screws with every page." -- Laird Barron, author of Swift to Chase and Blood Standard.




Monday, May 25, 2009

Hit List


Hit List: The Best of Latino Mystery
Edited by Sarah Cortez and Liz Martínez
Arte Público Press, 2009 ($19.95)

I’m always wary of any anthology that purports to present the “best” of anything. Editors who set such a high literary mark often fail to reach it. However, Hit List: The Best of Latino Mystery delivers seventeen top-notch stories by established and lesser-known writers. Among my favorites in this anthology are Manuel Ramos' "The Skull of Pancho Villa," Carolina Garcia-Aguilera's "The Right Profile" and "In the Kitchen with Johnny Albino" by Richie Narvaez. I'm a sucker for Steven Torres' Precinct Puerto Rico novels, so the inclusion of a Luis Gonzalo story was a great treat. There's also a Chico Santana story by A.E. Roman. This was my first exposure to Roman's fiction, and it has me looking forward to his debut novel, Chinatown Angel.

As co-editor Sarah Cortez notes in her introduction, the stories in Hit List run the range from hardboiled to cozy. While I don't much care for the latter, this antho's strength is that it offers a good sampling of Latino crime writing to suit just about any taste. Do these short stories truly represent the “best” of Latino mystery? I don't know. But it's a damn fine anthology that deserves to be read, passed around, and read again.

3 comments:

ARCHAVIST said...

Are these collection trying to reach a specific audience? I'm always dubious about collections from a specific demographic - english crime, american crime, african american crime. It makes it all sound as if it's aimed at a very specific area of readers. Still it sounds interesting enough.

Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

Arte Publico Press specializes in Latino arts, culture and issues. So HIT LIST probably was aimed at a specific group of readers, but this is a collection accessible to anyone who likes good crime fiction. I think it's fair to say that certain groups are still marginalized within the publishing world. Anthologies like HIT LIST address that problem.

R. Narvaez said...

Thanks for the nod and kind words, Patrick. As Archavist suggests, there is a dubious notion to such collections. After all, are we going to get Lesbian Handicapped Pygmies Mysteries next? Well, why not, if there are Lesbian Handicapped Pygmies who like crime fiction and, one hopes, people who are interested in reading about Lesbian Handicapped Pygmies involved in crime. As you say, if there is a group being under-served in publishing, it's nice to have their niche nurtured. At the same time, of course, such niching threatens to seem self-isolating, even chauvinist to some. It's a marketing risk I'm glad publishers are willing to take. With Hit List, of course we have to be careful about overemphasizing the Latino-ness of the collection. And really it's not that big a deal in the stories. Sure, Latinos may get a little something different out of the selections, but people of any stripe can enjoy the book as a nice read. Even Lesbian Handicapped Pygmies.