City of Dragons
reads like the script from a film noir like The Maltese Falcon
or The Big Sleep
. Kelli Stanley's style skillfully echoes those of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler as she brings to life the gritty world of San Francisco's Chinatown during the 1940s.
"San Francisco yawned and stretched, waking to Monday morning with a hangover. Chinatown shutters squealed open on rusty hinges, the streets shut off now, self-contained, the cotton-candy smell evaporated, the carnival gone on a dilapidated coach car to smaller, more simple places.
Old women swept chicken bones and popcorn and cigarette butts from foyers. Incense burned, sending curling waves of smoke drifting down to the Bay, to tickle the noses of businessmen on the ferry to Oakland."
The heroine of the novel is Miranda...
Beyond the Book
Hard-boiled fiction arose in the United States in the aftermath of WWI, and gained popularity and refinement in the years leading up to WWII. The popular genre was a direct reflection of the pessimism, uncertainty and disillusionment sweeping the country in the wake of gangster-driven crime, political scandal and economic crisis, and marked a decidedly American departure from the classic whodunit formula.
Fiction magazines proliferated in the 1920's and one in particular, Black Mask
, exclusively featured action-oriented detective stories. Founded in 1920 by H.L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan, it included the early efforts of such writers as...