In his introduction to the The Best American Noir of the Century, James Ellroy writes, "noir is the most scrutinised offshoot of the hard-boiled school of fiction. It's the long drop off the short pier and the wrong man and the wrong woman in perfect misalliance. It's the nightmare of flawed souls with big dreams and the precise how and why of the all-time sure thing that goes bad." Offering the best examples of literary sure things gone bad, this collection ensures that nowhere else can readers find a darker, more thorough distillation of American noir fiction.
James Ellroy and Otto Penzler, series editor of the annual The Best American Mystery Stories, mined one hundred years of writing - 1910-2010 - to find this treasure trove of thirty-nine stories. From noir's twenties-era infancy come gems like James M. Cain's "Pastorale," and its post-war heyday boasts giants like Mickey Spillane and Evan Hunter. Packing an undeniable punch, diverse contemporary incarnations include Elmore Leonard, Dennis Lehane, Patricia Highsmith and William Gay, with many page-turners appearing in the last decade.