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Book Reviews
'Belgrade Noir'
By: Milorad Ivanović (Editor) - Akashic Books, $15.95

Description: Akashic Books continues its award-winning series of original noir anthologies, launched in 2004 with Brooklyn Noir. Each book comprises all new stories, each one set in a distinct neighborhood or location within the respective city.

Belgrade, meaning “White City,” is located in Southeast Europe at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers. Alfred Hitchcock once said that certain creepy parts of Belgrade unnerved him and would be ideal settings for thrillers.

Thieves, traitors, spies, corrupt doctors, psychiatric patients, former policemen, mafia clans — they all appear in the pages of this book!

Verdict: The intensely magnetic short story collection 'Accra Noir' features brand new stories by: Oto Oltvanji, Misha Glenny, Kati Hiekkapelto, Vesna Goldsworthy, Mirjana Đurđević, Vladan Matijević, Muharem Bazdulj, Vladimir Arsenijević, Dejan Stojiljković, Miljenko Jergović, Aleksandar Gatalica, Vule Žurić, Verica Vincent Cole, and Goran Skrobonja.

'Belgrade Noir' - a book that leaves an indelible impression on you from just the opening sentences of the very first story - has four parts: While the City Sleeps, The Dark Corner, Once Upon a Time and Kiss Me Deadly.

Even in the worst periods of its history, Belgrade was always a multicultural, multi-religious, and multinational city. This anthology illustrates that.

Indeed, alongside Serbian authors, there are stories written by Croatian, Bosnian, British, and Finnish writers. The same is true for our great team of translators, which include Americans, Serbians, Bosnians, and an Albanian.

Right now, you likely believe there are a number of cities throughout the world that would make better settings for good noir stories, but I am quite certain that after reading this book, you will find yourself seduced by the dark charm of the White City.

For me personally, some of the stronger standouts include Mirjana Durdevic's breathtaking 'Undermarket,' Muharem Bazdulj’s tantalizing 'Black Widow, White Russian' and Vladimir Arsenijevic’s enthralling 'Regarding the Father.'

Whilst the latter two feature the thread of women seeking revenge on Serbian war criminals responsible for the murder of their parents during the region’s 1990s ethnic conflicts, the former is a woman coming face to face with a Doctor, some time after a series of oncology murders.

Contemporary crime is also well represented here, especially by Kati Heikkapelto’s 'An Ad in Vecernje Novosti,' which brings forth a tale of a sexual sadist who takes advantage of a naďve middle-aged man and his scheming mother. A tale not for the faint of heart, trust me.

One of the more intriguing, and that goes for the title inward, is Vesna Goldsworthy’s 'How to Pickle a Head of Cabbage,' which tells the tale of a predatory caretaker who systematically hastens the deaths of her elderly charges in order to inherit their Belgrade real estate!

If you read this and love it as much as I think you will, please check out other Akashic Noir books, including 'Belgrade Noir,' 'Montana Noir,' 'Vancouver Noir,' 'Lagos Noir,' 'Milwaukee Noir,' and all the others!

Milorad Ivanović Is a Serbian investigative reporter and editor. He was editor in chief of the Serbian edition of Newsweek, and executive editor of the daily paper Blic and the weekly publication Novi Magazin.

Presently he is an editor at BIRN Serbia in Belgrade. He has a special interest in cross-border journalism and is a member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

His investigations have included work on human trafficking, Balkan mercenaries in Iraq, and clinical trials.

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