Reverse-Gentrification of the Literary World

Akashic Books

||| |||

Catalog » Browse by Title: S » Santa Cruz Noir

Santa Cruz Noir

Edited by:

Following in the footsteps of Los Angeles Noir, San Francisco Noir, San Diego Noir, Orange County Noir, and Oakland Noir, this new volume further reveals the seedy underbelly of the Left Coast.

$15.95 $11.96

Available as an e-book for:

What people are saying…

Elizabeth McKenzie’s “The Big Creep” has been named a finalist for the 2019 Shamus Award for Best Private Eye Short Story presented by the Private Eye Writers of America!

Lou Mathews’s “Crab Dinners” and Dillon Kaiser’s “It Follows as it Leads” have been included in the Distinguished Mystery Stories of 2018 list in The Best American Mystery Stories 2019!

Santa Cruz Noir is teeming with other local details that will make readers do similar double takes. It’s divided into three sections, the first of which is called ‘Murder Capital of the World,’ as if to put any question of when Santa Cruz’s notorious serial killer lore is going to come up immediately to rest.”
Good Times Santa Cruz, From a Feature on Susie Bright

“In June, Akashic has three of the more exciting recent installments to its wildly popular Noir city series: Santa Cruz, Lagos, and Sao Paolo. The Lagos volume is a standout, with Chris Abani serving as editor and tapping into the city’s vibrant literary scene, but Santa Cruz and Sao Paolo both have plenty to be excited about, especially if you’re a fan of seaside noir or Brazilian fiction. These are three vibrant, international cities with distinct cultures and social issues best explored through noir.”
CrimeReads, Included in Summer’s Most Anticipated Crime, Mystery, and Thrillers

“Concluding with a serious gutpunch of a story, Santa Cruz Noir is a worthy addition to the series, one that proves no locale is too outre for the Akashic Noir treatment.”
San Francisco Book Review

“Santa Cruz is a place of natural beauty, ocean breezes and family-friendly tourist attractions. But a new collection of short fiction stories explores a seedier side of this beach town filled with murder and mystery.”

“There’s also plenty of human-on-human crime. There are intricate plots, sketchier plots, dubious motives, inscrutable motives, downright creepiness, edgy stuff, and wonderful humor. Something for everyone’s taste in noir.”
Escape Into Life

Santa Cruz Noir delivers on noir sensibilities with an extra twist: it’s that California mythology . . . It is this noir ethos that defines Santa Cruz Noir. After arriving at California’s golden shores, life surely will be better. There is no place further to go.”
Book Riot

“Akashic’s well-traveled, always-riveting Noir series has been to some serendipitous locales over the years, cities perfectly suited to crime fiction, some boasting a long noir tradition of their very own. But for me, just in terms of sheer allure and possibility, the new Santa Cruz collection is right up there at the top. A washed out seaside pleasure palace, nestled up against the hills and the surf, home to all manner of shady types and societal misfits, proximate to great wealth but possessed of an undeniable scruffiness, and above all, beautiful, with that low California sun so conducive to good noir.”
CrimeReads, One of 10 Crime Books to Read this June

“It’s a thrilling, whip-smart book that will dazzle local lovers of crime fiction.”
Good Times Santa Cruz, Editor’s Note

Santa Cruz Noir, an electric, wide-ranging collection of short stories edited by local legend Susie Bright, is a book about the paradox of Santa Cruz, the zen and the gunshots, the perfect waves and their broken riders, the million-dollar houses and the flooded homeless encampments. The book is structured from north to south, beginning with tales of bodies not entirely buried on lonely northern beaches and ending in unforgiving agricultural fields to the south. The stories are also grouped into thematic sections, starting with ‘Murder Capital of the World’—bloody fever dreams of bad drugs and hitchhiking gone terribly wrong. Fair warning: These stories are as grisly as a good episode of Game of Thrones and just as addictive.”
—Bookshop Santa Cruz

“Bright joins the ranks of Akashic editors to rip the lid off the California coastal town that’s never seemed less laid-back.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Another stellar installment in the marvelous Akashic Noir series of anthologies that take readers around the world . . . In these stories, you will find struggle and cruelty, madness and kindness, and everything human. I recommend it highly.”
Tonstant Weader Reviews


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. Following in the footsteps of Los Angeles Noir, San Francisco Noir, San Diego Noir, Orange County Noir, and Oakland Noirthis new volume further reveals the seedy underbelly of the Left Coast.

Brand-new stories by: Tommy Moore, Jessica Breheny, Naomi Hirahara, Calvin McMillin, Liza Monroy, Elizabeth McKenzie, Jill Wolfson, Ariel Gore, Jon Bailiff, Maceo Montoya, Micah Perks, Seana Graham, Vinnie Hansen, Peggy Townsend, Margaret Elysia Garcia, Lou Mathews, Lee Quarnstrom, Dillon Kaiser, Beth Lisick, and Wallace Baine.

From the introduction by Susie Bright:

Every town has its noir-ville. It’s easy to find in Santa Cruz. We live in what’s called “paradise,” where you can wake up in a pool of blood with the first pink rays of the sunrise peeking out over our mountain range. The dewy mist lifts from the bay. Don’t hate us because we’re beautiful—we were made that way, like Venus rising off the foam with a brick in her hand. We can’t help it if you fall for it every time . . .

“If I lived in a place like this,” visitors often say, “I’d wake up with a smile every day.”

Oh, we do, thank you for that. There’s no beauty like a merciless beauty—and like every crepuscular predator, she thrives at dawn and dusk. You’re just the innocent we’ve been waiting for, with your big paper cone of sugar-shark cotton, whipped out of pure nothing. We have just the ride for you, the longest tunnel ever. Santa Cruz is everything you ever dreamed, and everything you ever screamed, in one long drop you’ll never forget.

Listen to an interview with editor Susie Bright at KAZU FM, on the Writer Types podcast, and on KSCO Radio’s Good Morning Santa Cruz.

Read interviews with editor Susie Bright at Good Times Santa Cruz and Book Riot.

Read Naomi Hirahara’s “Possessed” at CrimeReads.

Read an announcement about the anthology at the Santa Cruz Sentinel

Listen to Largehearted Boy’s Book Notes Playlist contributed by Susie Bright and story contributors.

Book Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Published: 6/5/18
  • IBSN: 9781617756221
  • e-IBSN: 9781617756474


SUSIE BRIGHT is a best-selling author and editor who landed in Santa Cruz in 1979. Her previous short story collections include The Best American Erotica, Herotica, Bitten, and X. She is the host of the podcast In Bed with Susie Bright, author of the memoir Big Sex Little Death, and cowrote and choreographed the noir film Bound. She is the editor of Santa Cruz Noir.

More info »