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Palm Springs Noir

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Palm Springs now joins Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley in California’s Noir Series arena.

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$16.95 $12.71

What people are saying…

“Contrary to popular belief, noir doesn’t require a bleak city street for its setting. Nor water, for that matter. Noir thrives on secrets, lies and lust, all flowing plentifully through the jewel in the Coachella Valley’s fragile crown . . . For all the playfulness of the genre and the location, the wisecracks and the kidney-shaped pools, there is an unmanageable darkness waiting to seep in, like so much blood in the pool water.”
Los Angeles Times

“About as Palm Springs as Palm Springs gets.”
Coachella Valley Independent, a Best of Coachella Valley pick for 2021

“Conjure up images of Palm Springs and you’ll probably think of pastel-colored pool floaties, midcentury chic architecture, a gigantic Marilyn Monroe that watches over the city like its guardian angel. But you don’t need to scratch deep to find darkness in the desert—and even Palm Springs, with its endless well of pools, violently colored cocktails, and impossibly green lawns, is no exception.”
Los Angeles Review of Books

Palm Springs Noir features a collection of short stories set in a cross-section of desert cities and written primarily by authors with Coachella Valley ties.”
Palm Springs Life

“DeMarco-Barrett, an Orange County resident and frequent valley visitor, has curated 14 short stories that delightfully raise eyebrows and keep your eyes feasting on the page.”
Desert Sun

“Akashic Books cruises into bleak, balmy Palm Springs with their newest delightful, dastardly offering . . . Heavy with sunshine, bright with dread, Palm Springs Noir will take you on a ride not easily forgotten.”
Suspense Magazine

Palm Springs Noir brings together SoCal writers in a dark and dangerous anthology.”
—Southern California News Group’s Bookish

Palm Springs Noir, edited by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, has it all – the pastel-coloured pool floaties, the gigantic Marilyn Monroe, the Mojave Desert, some lush, and louche, living, and a bunch of great contributors.”

Included in CrimeReads’ New Books Roundup

“This compilation is a roller coaster ride that’s filled with loads of suspense, mystery, and steamy sexiness. Brilliantly conceived, DeMarco-Barrett and the other contributing authors effortlessly transport the reader to the edgy, moody, and sleazier side of one of Southern California’s most renowned and iconic locales. A sure thing bestseller and a must-have summer read, Palm Springs Noir unquestionably brings the heat.”
New York Journal of Books

“These mysteries will captivate the imagination and draw the reader into the darkest corners of the human heart, while reflecting the wicked, the saintly, and the everyday elements daily life of Palm Springs. A treasure for connoisseurs of the genre, Palm Springs Noir is packed with hidden surprises and is highly recommended.”
Midwest Book Review

“The anthology is a travelogue, of sorts, although one filled with deadly characters and people who make one bad choice after another. If you enjoy noir, this latest by Akashic Books is a worthwhile read.”
Reviewing the Evidence

“A nice window into a pretty bizarre . . . place, Palm Springs.”
Point Blank

“There’s a great deal of writing talent here and no two tales are alike.”
Sunny Harbor Publishing

“All [the stories] are very, very well written . . . Lovers of crime and people who enjoy good writing will enjoy them no matter what.”
Queer Writers of Crime

“The latest noir anthology from Akashic Books gathers 14 new stories set in the Coachella Valley. Featuring work by Tod Goldberg, Alex Espinoza, and Kelly Shire, the collection offers a more complicated set of takes on the Southern California desert, revealing its hidden, sinister qualities.”
Alta Magazine

“This time around all the action takes place in Palm Springs itself or in places like Joshua Tree National Park, the Coachella Valley Preserve, or Desert Hot Springs which are all nearby. And, as usual, the stories will not disappoint fans of the genre.”

“As the 14 stories in DeMarco-Barrett’s fine noir anthology set in Palm Springs, Calif., and vicinity show, swimming pools are meant for more than leisurely dips, and Frank Sinatra songs are an ever-present soundtrack to the desert landscape of abandoned dreams and broken hearts . . . It’s rare to find a group of stories without a bad one, but DeMarco-Barrett has chosen well and there’s not a dud in the bunch.”
Publishers Weekly

Palm Springs Noir features 14 stories by a powerhouse group of writers. Each story has its own unique flavor and voice as reflected by the diversity and talent of the contributing writers . . . Although Palm Springs serves as the shining centerpiece to the collection, the richness of the surrounding desert is reflected in stories that travel in all directions – west to Anza, east to Indio, north to Joshua Tree, and south to the Salton Sea.”
Stu’s News Newport

“As in a great noir plot, DeMarco-Barrett’s latest literary caper started with a chance encounter, one that occurred years ago at a book festival.”
Orange Coast Magazine

“An appealing anthology of 14 stories about life and crime in the Mojave Desert’s playground to the stars.”
MysteryScene Magazine

“The stories are just as sleazy as you might expect in a book of noir fiction, but the reader also experiences a lot of suspense and darkness.”
The Cyberlibrarian

“As editor DeMarco-Barrett points out, it’s hard to think ‘noir’ in a landscape that offers 300 days of sunshine a year. But unrelenting heat and light can do funny things to your brain . . . An engaging mix of the good, the bad, and the off-kilter.”
Kirkus Reviews

Included in Publishers Weekly’s Adult 2021 Announcements (Mysteries & Thrillers)


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: T. Jefferson Parker, Janet Fitch, Eric Beetner, Kelly Shire, Tod Goldberg, Michael Craft, Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, Rob Roberge, J.D. Horn, Eduardo Santiago, Rob Bowman, Chris J. Bahnsen, Ken Layne, and Alex Espinoza.

From the introduction by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett:

The best noir writers make us feel the heat of the sun, the touch of a lover. Setting can be gritty but can also be sublime, no longer relegated to urban locales and seedy hotel rooms but also mansions and swimming pools. Hence, Palm Springs, which may seem like an odd setting for a collection of dark short stories—it’s so sunny and bright here. The quality of light is unlike anywhere else, and with an average of three hundred sunny days a year, what could go wrong? . . .

The stories in this collection come on like the wicked dust storms common to the area. More than half are by writers who live here full-time; all have homes in Southern California. They know this place in ways visitors and outsiders never will. These are not stories you’ll read in the glossy coffee-table books that feature Palm Springs’s good life. There is indeed a lush life to be found here, but for the characters in these stories, it’s often just out of reach.

Table of Contents


Part I: Strangers in the Night
“Sunrise” by Janet Fitch (South Palm Canyon)
“The Guest” by Eric Beetner (Historic Tennis Club)
“A Cold Girl” by Kelly Shire (Cathedral City)

Part II: Little White Lies
“VIP Check-In” by Michael Craft (Little Tuscany)
“The Water Holds You Still” by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett (Twin Palms)
“The Expendables” by Rob Roberge (Wonder Valley)

Part III: Everything Happens to Me
“The Stand-In” by J.D. Horn (Deepwell)
“The Ankle of Anza” by Eduardo Santiago (Anza)
“Everything Drains and Disappears” by Rob Bowman (Bermuda Dunes)
“A Career Spent Disappointing People” by Tod Goldberg (Indio)

Part IV: Ill Wind
“Specters” by T. Jefferson Parker (Anza-Borrego)
“Octagon Girl” by Chris J. Bahnsen (Desert Hot Springs)
“The Loop Trail” by Ken Layne (Joshua Tree)
“The Salt Calls Us Back” by Alex Espinoza (Salton Sea)

Watch a feature on Palm Springs Noir at NBC Palm Springs.

Listen to an interview with editor Barbara DeMarco-Barrett on the podcast Drinks with Tony.

Listen to an interview with editor Barbara DeMarco-Barrett on Write About Now with Jonathan Small.

Listen to an interview with editor Barbara DeMarco-Barrett and contributors Tod Goldberg and Janet Fitch on Eric Beetner’s Writer Types podcast.

Listen to a panel discussion with Corey Roskin, editor Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, and contributors Alex Espinoza and Rob Roberge at Writers on Writing.

Read an excerpt from the introduction by Barbara Demarco-Barrett at CrimeReads.

Read a feature on Palm Springs Noir, including an excerpt of “VIP Check-In” by Michael Craft, at the Coachella Valley Independent

Check out mentions of Palm Springs Noir at the Los Angeles Times Book Club, Daily Pilot, and CrimeReads.

Watch the Pen on Fire speaker series event featuring contributors to Palm Springs Noir.

Book Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Published: 7/6/21
  • IBSN: 9781617759284
  • e-IBSN: 9781617759383
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • IBSN: 9781636140421


BARBARA DeMARCO-BARRETT spends time in the desert whenever she can. She hosts Writers on Writing on KUCI-FM, and her book Pen on Fire was a Los Angeles Times best seller. Her short story “Crazy for You” was published in USA Noir: Best of the Akashic Noir Series. She has also published in the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Inlandia, Shotgun Honey, Crossing Borders, and The Literary Hatchet. She is the editor of Palm Springs Noir.

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