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Kansas City Noir

Edited by:

Steve Paul recruits Daniel Woodrell, John Lutz, and others in Kansas City Noir, where naked ambition meets broken dreams, and blues and the night go together like rye whiskey, vermouth, and bitters.

$15.95 $11.96

Available as an e-book for:

What people are saying…

“Light Bulb” by Nancy Pickard was selected for inclusion in The Best American Mystery Stories 2013, edited by Otto Penzler and Lisa Scottoline!

“Kansas City, famous for its jazz, its barbecue, and its shady history, provides the venue for this solid addition to Akashic’s acclaimed noir anthology series.”
Publishers Weekly

“Hard-used heroes and heroines seem to live a lifetime in the stories . . . Half novels-in-waiting, half journalistic anecdotes that are equally likely to appeal to Kansas City boosters and strangers.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Travel has many unexpected benefits, so even if you’ve never had a reason to visit the city itself, you’ll find Kansas City Noir surprisingly well worth the price of the ticket.”

“Picture steam rising from a sewer grate on a rain-slicked street. The sound of footsteps comes closer and closer behind you as you walk down a dark, downtown Kansas City Alley. If this scenario entices you, then you just might enjoy Kansas City Noir.”

“What we heard was REALLY GOOD. So good in fact that we picked up a copy. Now we’re . . . getting ready to read it on one sitting.”
—Tony’s Kansas City


Read “Mission Hills Confidential” by Grace Suh and “Cat in a Box” by Kevin Prufer, featured as part of Akashic’s celebration of Short Story Month 2013.

Akashic Books continues its groundbreaking series of original noir anthologies, launched in 2004 with Brooklyn Noir. Each story is set in a distinct neighborhood or location within the city of the book.

Brand-new stories by: Daniel Woodrell, Matthew Eck, Catherine Browder, Nancy Pickard, John Lutz, J. Malcolm Garcia, Kevin Prufer, Linda Rodriguez, Nadia Pflaum, Phong Nguyen, Andres Rodriguez, and others.

From the introduction by Steve Paul:

“Kansas City is a crossroads. East meets West and North meets South here. Since its settlement in the first half of the nineteenth century, Kansas City has represented a place of opportunity, optimism, and ornery behavior. It outfitted travelers and dreamers on the Santa Fe, California, and Oregon trails. It grew on cattle, grain, and lumber. It nurtured Jesse James, jazz, and gin-slinging scoundrels . . .

Here, you will indeed find serial killers, moral turpitude, and police detectives at work. But you are just as likely to encounter quieter tales of inner turmoil, troubled reflection, and anxiety. The heart in stress can lead people to unpredictable and midnight-blue places . . . Tourists and locals alike love their sports here, their slow-smoked ribs, their shopping, and the gab that goes on at neighborhood bars. Walking on the wild side is a long tradition here too, evidence of the full range of Kansas City’s human condition. Our lineup of fine writers explores that condition in numerous and compelling ways. Through wintry chill. Through moonlit mystery. And often, befitting our literary and musical heritage, through singing the blues . . .”

Table of Contents


Part I: Heartland
“Missing Gene” by J. Malcolm Garcia (Troost Lake)
“Cat in a Box” by Kevin Prufer (Country Club Plaza)
“Mission Hills Confidential” by Grace Suh (Mission Hills)
“Come Murder Me Next, Babe” by Daniel Woodrell (12th Street)
“The Softest Crime” by Matthew Eck (41st and Walnut)
“You Shouldn’t Be Here” by Philip Stephens (Midtown)

Part II: Crazy Little Women
“The Incident” by Catherine Browder (Northeast)
“The Good Neighbor” by Linda Rodriguez (South Troost)
“Thelma and Laverne” by John Lutz (West 8th Street)
“Lightbulb” by Nancy Pickard (The Paseo)

Part III: Smoke & Mirrors
“Yesterdays” by Andrés Rodríguez (Milton’s Tap Room)
“Last Night at the Rialto” by Mitch Brian (The Celluloid City)
“Charlie Price’s Last Supper” by Nadia Pflaum (18th and Vine)
“The Pendergast Musket” by Phong Nguyen (West Bottoms)


Book Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Published: 10/2/12
  • IBSN: 9781617751288
  • e-IBSN: 9781617751448


STEVE PAUL has been a writer and editor at the Kansas City Star since 1975. Currently the arts editor, he writes about music, books, architecture, food, and, occasionally, murder. He’s the author of Architecture A to Z: An Elemental, Alphabetical Guide to Kansas City’s Built Environment (2011), editor of Kansas City Noir, and coeditor of and contributor to War & Ink, a collection of essays about Ernest Hemingway’s early work, forthcoming from Kent State University Press. A former bookseller and a native of Boston, he has served as a board member and officer of the National Book Critics Circle.

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