Phoenix Noir Book Includes Fiction From Current and Former Arizona Republic Writers

Arizona Republic readers don't usually get to see this side of investigative reporter Robert Anglen's writing talent:

She straddled his lap, backlit by purple neon, grinding as the Red Hot Chili Peppers caterwauled about Californication. Her face was so close he could taste butterscotch from the candies she chain-popped between the sets. They were in a private VIP booth, their love lounge.

The passage is from a piece of crime fiction by Anglen called "Growing Back," one of the stories in the upcoming book, Phoenix Noir.

Anglen's tale also manages to take a swipe at Joe Arpaio through the point of view of his main character, "Eddie:"

Putting inmates in pink underwear was the brainchild of the Maricopa County Sheriff, who thought degrading men by forcing them to eat green bologna sandiches, watch the Disney Channel and work on chain gangs made him America's Toughest Sheriff.

Of course, the sadistic fuck also built a jail out of tents on the floor of the goddamn Gila Desert. And on that one, Eddie had to give the sheriff props. Satan's front porch had nothing on a thousand men crammed ten to a tent in 120-degree summers.

Phoenix Noir also features longtime Republic writer Charles Kelly and former Republic columnist Jon Talton, in addition to better-known Valley-based mystery authors. The book is part of the Akashic Noir Series, which publishes numerous titles centering on various, worldwide locales. The book is edited by Patrick Millikin, a manager of the Poisoned Pen bookstore in Scottsdale.

Kelly, a self-described "hard-boiled journalist," turns out a quick Da Vinci Code-style piece about an immoral priest who'll do anything for a piece of Jesus' cross. As in many of the noir stories, blood flies like party streamers:

"There's a gun in here, too," O'Toole said, sweeping the tiny Beretta M21A from under his robes and firing twice. Blood bubbled on the screen as the .22-caliber long-rifle bullets punched into the coyote's forehead.

Talton's story is the first offered in the book. Set in 1943, it features a nasty scene of injustice by the local, racist authorities:

"Wasn't too smart coming into Phoenix, was it, boy? We make our niggers behave, keep 'em south of the tracks. So the government gives you a uniform, gives you a gun, makes you think you're special. You're just a black nigger, you murderous son of a bitch."

"Gotta call my commanding officer," the kid said.

"Shut up!" Navarre roared, his eyes bright and primal like an animal's.

And not a word about the real estate industrial complex -- can you believe it?

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.