Sunday, August 20, 2017
The Bubble, by Jennifer Harlow
I have started reading the Akashic Press Noir City volumes for 2017, so it must be time for my annual rant: Noir does not mean gloomy. Noir fiction must involve crime or the threat of crime. Okay?
That's essential, but we can expand. Ideally, noir involves this: A nobody tries to become somebody. For this effrontery they are curb stomped by the universe. Crime in involved. Often the nobody is led to disaster by a love/lust interest.
Jennifer Harlow certainly understands all of that. Her story involves not only noir but another French term: femme fatale. That would be Maddie, a teenager in Peachtree City, who is sick to death of her privileged life among snobs, absentee parents, and the self-medicated. She decides to commit murder, just for excitement, and power, and, let's face it, because she is evil.
But she isn't working alone. Her reluctant partner in crime is Emma, who is not as smart, not as pretty, and desperately in love with Maddie. Is Maddie willing to use her sexuality to manipulate Emma into crime? Oh, yes.
Does our tale of thrill killers meet the definition of classic noir? To some degree that depends on whether you think Emma has interpreted events correctly. I'll let you decide. But I'll tell you for free that it's a very good story.