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Berkeley Noir

Edited by: and

Berkeley brings its own unique blend of Bay Area noir, complementing the grit and grime that preceded it in San Francisco Noir and Oakland Noir.

$15.95 $11.96

What people are saying…

“Frederick Douglass Elementary” by Aya de León has been selected for inclusion in Best American Mystery and Suspense 2021!

“Each story evokes the dark side of a Berkeley neighborhood and pays tribute both to the city’s history as a haven for outcasts and as a literary metropolis. If you race through it, consider picking up San Francisco Noir and Oakland Noir.”
Diablo Magazine, a Top Ticket choice

“Anyone who enjoys seeing a familiar setting from a new perspective will appreciate the gems in this edition.”

“At first consideration one might wonder if Berkeley has enough of a seedy underbelly to produce credible settings and stories for such an anthology? The writing proves it does.”
The Berkeley Daily Planet

“A fine work from a talented pool of writers.”
San Francisco Book Review

“A fun and fully immersive read from cover to cover, Berkeley Noir is a mystery lover’s delight.”
Midwest Book Review

“[A] quietly compelling short story collection.”
Exclusive Magazine

“My mom went to Berkeley in the 60s (my main tangential claim to hippiedom), so I’m psyched to see her favorite town get the Akashic noir treatment. San Francisco’s hippie silo has long captured the imagination of artists and writers, and I can’t wait to read the many stories in this collection, including new works from cult faves such Barry Gifford, Aya de Leon, Summer Brenner, and more.”
CrimeReads, included in CrimeReads’ Most Anticipated Crime Books of 2020

“This volume proves yet again that noir is discoverable anywhere there are human beings—in this case, a quirky university town on the east side of San Francisco Bay . . . Another fine entry in a series for the ages.”
New York Journal of Books

“Berkeley, California: home of a world-class university with a parking lot for Nobel laureates, politically active and correct, volatile, and, yes, a bit seedy, too, if you know where to look. The stories in Akashic’s latest noir anthology expose the underbelly of this lovely city . . . All get their just rewards eventually, and readers will be entertained as they find out how it happens.”

“Readers will be glad that many of these tales are fun in a way that traditional noir isn’t.”
Publishers Weekly

“Sixteen new stories reveal the darker side of friendly, funky Berkeley.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Isn’t Berkeley a nice city, full of wonderful, young, progressive college students? I always thought so, but not so fast. Berkeley Noir exposes the underbelly of this idealized city.”
The Cyberlibrarian


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.

Brand-new stories by: Barry Gifford, Jim Nisbet, Lexi Pandell, Lucy Jane Bledsoe, Mara Faye Lethem, Thomas Burchfield, Shanthi Sekaran, Nick Mamatas, Kimn Neilson, Jason S. Ridler, Susan Dunlap, J.M. Curet, Summer Brenner, Michael David Lukas, Aya de León, and Owen Hill.

From the introduction by Jerry Thompson and Owen Hill:

A town named after a British philosopher doesn’t exactly evoke visions of Goodis or Highsmith. Grifters? Dames? Cops? In Berkeley? On the surface the alleys don’t seem that dark, until we look a little closer. Possibly the most iconic visual image of Berkeley does involve cops. It’s the film with Mario Savio, atop a police car, declaring, “There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part!” Now there’s a statement that sums up the spirit of noir.

Berkeley Noir asks, If not here, where? When pulling together this outstanding list of authors, we were constantly reminded of Berkeley’s rich literary history, one that swerves through varying shades of noir. Those who helped pave the way for this collection include Anthony Boucher, Janet Dawson, Margaret Cuthbert, Ellen Gilchrist, Linda Grant, Jonathan Lethem, and Barry Gifford. There will always be a place in the heart of this city where even outcasts can feel at home . . . The search through darkness for an authentic, eclectic voice is the most important ingredient in the rich stew that is Berkeley, California.

Table of Contents


Part I: From the People’s Republic
“Hill House” by Lexi Pandell (Berkeley Hills)
“The Tangy Brine of Dark Night” by Lucy Jane Bledsoe (Berkeley Marina)
“Twin Flames” by Mara Faye Lethem (Southside)
“‘Lucky Day'” by Thomas Burchfield (Berkeley Public Library)
“Barroom Butterfly” by Barry Gifford (Central Berkeley)

Part II: Directly Across from the Golden Gate
“Eat Your Pheasant, Drink Your Wine” by Shanthi Sekaran (Kensington)
“Every Man and Every Woman Is a Star” by Nick Mamatas (Ho Chi Minh Park)
“Still Life, Reviving” by Kimn Neilson (Ocean View)
“Shallow and Deep” by Jason S. Ridler (Downtown Berkeley)
“Boy Toy” by Jim Nisbet (Yacht Harbor)

Part III: Company Town
“The Law of Local Karma” by Susan Dunlap (Gourmet Ghetto)
“Wifebeater Tank Top” by J.M. Curet (West Berkeley)
“Identity Theft” by Summer Brenner (North Berkeley)
“Dear Fellow Graduates” by Michael David Lukas (Indian Rock)
“Frederick Douglass Elementary” by Aya de León (West Berkeley Flats)
“Righteous Kill” by Owen Hill (Gilman District)

Read an excerpt of Barry Gifford’s “Barroom Butterfly” at CrimeReads.

Listen to KALW’s Sights & Sounds interviews with co-editors Owen Hill and Jerry Thompson.

Listen to KALW’s Crosscurrents interview with co-editors Jerry Thompson and Owen Hill.

Listen to Jerry Thompson read an excerpt from the introduction at KALW’s New Arrivals.

Book Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Published: 5/5/20
  • IBSN: 9781617757976
  • e-IBSN: 9781617758133
  • Hardcover
  • IBSN: 9781617759239


JERRY THOMPSON is a bookseller, poet, playwright, and musician. His work has appeared in ZYZZYVA and the James White Review. He is the coauthor of Images of America: Black Artists in Oakland. His fiction and prose have appeared in various anthologies including Voices Rising, edited by G. Winston James, and Freedom in this Village: Twenty-Five Years of Black Gay Men’s Writing, edited by E. Lynn Harris. He is the coeditor of both Oakland Noir and the forthcoming Berkeley Noir.

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OWEN HILL is the author of two crime novels, The Chandler Apartments and The Incredible Double, and he coedited The Annotated Big Sleep with Pamela Jackson and Anthony Dean Rizzuto. Until recently he lived in the Chandler Building on the corner of Telegraph and Dwight in Berkeley. He is the coeditor of Berkeley Noir.

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