The Akashic Noir Series’ forensic study of Southern California sharpens its focus on one of L.A.’s most recognized neighborhoods in “South Central Noir,” edited by Gary Phillips.

“Within these pages you’ll find stories of those walking the straight and narrow — until something untoward happens,” Phillips writes in the introduction. “Maybe it’s someone taking a step out of line, getting caught up in circumstances spiraling out of their control. Maybe they’re planning the grift, the grab … whatever it is to finally put them over. Other times the steps they take are to get themselves or people they care about out from under.

“You’ll find the offerings in these pages are a rich mix of tone — tales told of hope, survival, revenge, and triumph. Excursions beyond the headlines and the hype.

“The settings herein reflect South Central today or chronicle its colorful past, such as the days of the jazz joints along Central Avenue … From South Park to East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, from the borderlands of Watts to the one-time Southern Pacific railroad tracks paralleling Slauson Avenue, take a tour of a section of Los Angeles that may be unfamiliar to you but you will get to know, at least a little, by the time you finish reading this entertaining and engaging anthology.”

Featuring brand-new stories by Steph Cha, Nikolas Charles, Tananarive Due, Larry Fondation, Gar Anthony Haywood, Naomi Hirahara, Emory Holmes II, Roberto Lovato, Penny Mickelbury, Gary Phillips, Eric Stone, Jervey Tervalon, Jeri Westerson, and Désirée Zamorano.

Hirahara (, the award-winning author of the Mas Arai mystery series, said on her Facebook page, “My contribution, ‘I Am Yojimbo,’ is set in the now defunct Kokusai Theatre that used to be on Crenshaw. My writer friend says it’s really dark, so be forewarned. Includes scenes in Holiday Bowl, the mall, and Seinan Center. A pivotal cameo by Terminal Islander Charlie Hamasaki.”

Mystery Scene Magazine described “South Central Noir” as “a remarkable anthology of 14 original tales set in South Central Los Angeles. The stories are vivid, atmospheric, thought-provoking, and entertaining with nary a dud from the first page to the last.”

Phillips has published novels, comics, and short stories, and edited numerous anthologies. “Violent Spring,” first published in 1994, was named one of the essential crime novels of Los Angeles. “Culprits,” a linked anthology he co-edited, has been optioned as a British miniseries, and he was a staff writer on FX’s “Snowfall” about crack and the CIA in 1980s South Central, where he grew up. He is the editor of “Orange County Noir” and co-editor of “The Cocaine Chronicles.” He has contributed stories to “Dublin Noir,” “Los Angeles Noir,” “Phoenix Noir,” and “The Heroin Chronicles.”

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