In my opinion, the smaller publishing companies have been taking noir stories, novellas, and novels to new heights for the past 5 years. Smaller companies such as New Pulp Press, Blasted Heath, Gutter Books, All Due Respect Books (okay, you get the idea and sorry for the tons of smaller presses I love and have forgotten) have been churning out pieces of writing that are going beyond just good noir and are truly great works of literature. The two books I have read from Number Thirteen Press are putting them into the aforementioned category of great publishers as well.
Number Thirteen Press’ second novella, Down Among the Dead by Steve Finbow is a strong offering that reminds me of a song lyric “scars are souvenirs you never lose; the past is never far” (sorry to quote the Goo Goo Dolls, but it fits this book). Michael O’Connor views the past as well, the past. His years working with the IRA are well behind him and he spends his time with bets and booze. Too bad for him there are people in his past who want to make him pay for his past…with his future.
It took me a bit to get into the book, but once I sank me teeth into this tale, it was hard to put it down. As an American reader, I can have trouble with British references and that can impede the reading for me at times, but overall, I thought this book was dark and gritty…just how I like my books. The book has two storylines; Michael as he is involved with the IRA and Michael as an older gentleman just looking to pass his years away at his local pub. Both storylines were intriguing and well-written.
I have sampled two offerings from Number Thirteen Press and they are batting 1.00 with two monster homerooms. Books like these just reinforce my belief that the best books are not the books that get the most press. If you love strong noir, you need to be following the smaller presses and buying their offerings on your E-devices and getting their print books when you can. If you are simply buying books at Costco or other big chains, you are missing the boat and certainly missing the present and future of great noir. I am not a highly knowledgeable man on old pulp novels and older noir, but I am starting to believe I am living in a golden age of noir fiction writing. The more I read of these smaller presses, the more impressed I am and the bigger my TBR pile gets. Bravo to Number Thirteen Press on joining the party!