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Men of the Mean Streets

Men of the Mean Streets, July 2011
by Greg Herren, J.M. Redmann

Bella International Ltd
288 pages
ISBN: 1602822409
EAN: 9781602822405
Paperback
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"14 Dark Stories with an Intriguing Mix of Noir and Gay Fiction"

Fresh Fiction Review

Men of the Mean Streets
Greg Herren, J.M. Redmann

Reviewed by Lisa Watts
Posted July 15, 2011

Mystery Hard Boiled | Gay / Lesbian

MEN OF THE MEAN STREETS is a collection of 14 short stories of gay noir co-edited by Greg Herren and J. M. Redmann. Noir fiction is most commonly associated with detective stories, and is distinguished by the unsentimental portrayal of violence and sex. All of the stories in this anthology represent noir fiction with the distinguishing factor that the lead character is gay. The amount of emphasis on sexual relationships varies between stories, so that in some the lead only mentions his sexual orientation while others contain graphic sex scenes.

In many noir stories the lead is a tough detective who confronts danger and engages in violence while displaying a cocky and flippant attitude. Several of the stories in this anthology closely follow this ideal. Murder on the Midway by Jeffrey Ricker is one of the most traditional noir mysteries. In it a gay activist has sex with wealthy men in exchange for charitable contributions. Private Chick by Julie Smith on the other hand gives the genre a unique twist by making the private investigator a drag queen. It is also one of very few stories with a humorous edge.

The protagonist in noir fiction does not always have to be a detective, but can also be a victim, a suspect, or a perpetrator tied directly to the crime. Many of the stories in the collection fall into this category. The Thin Blue Line(s) by Max Reynolds is about an editor who murders one of his writers because she tries to force herself on him. One of the most unique stories is Spin Cycle by editor Greg Herren, in which an elderly couple's obsession with doing the laundry drives a man to murder.

One thing all the stories in the anthology have in common is that they are dark, violent, and have a gritty realism to them. One of the most interesting yet macabre stories is Patience, Colorado by Rob Byrnes. A storm forces a man on the run to spend the night in a run-down town, where things go from bad to worse, and he soon discovers that people are not always who they seem to be. It demonstrates many of the characteristics of noir fiction by portraying a lead character with self-destructive qualities, using sex to advance the plot and having a lean, direct writing style.

Anyone who likes their stories on the darker side and doesn't mind a little sex between men will enjoy MEN OF THE MEAN STREETS. The diversity of the stories together with the intriguing mix of the noir and gay fiction genres will keep readers interested and engaged until the end.

Learn more about Men of the Mean Streets

SUMMARY

Noir has always been one of the most popular—and darkest—sub-genres of the mystery field. Following in the footsteps of such masters of the form as James M. Cain, Raymond Chandler, and Dashiell Hammett, some of the top writers of gay mystery explore this territory of amoral tough guys with a cynical view of the world by giving classic noir a gay twist. Edited by award winning author/editors Greg Herren and J.M. Redmann, Men of the Mean Streets changes the face of gay mystery—and the reader may never look at gay life and culture in the same way again.


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