‘Noir’ by Linda Mannheim

The short stories of Linda Mannheim are a recent discovery and I absolutely love them. They seem to operate as snapshots of lives in transit, under strain, often requiring a crazed resourcefulness to make it to the next scene, even. She writes in what I’d describe as a very hard-boiled fashion; her sentences contain flint. She’s big on intrigue, very good at leaving a scrap of the emerging story on the table, daring the reader to pick it up. Mannheim’s lean plotting and taut dialogue suggest she would actually make a very good crime writer, and ‘Noir’ toys with many of the genre’s tropes with a knowing grace.
 
Laura, a young reporter in Miami, becomes entangled in a shadowy political mystery when Miguel appears in her office looking for friends he fears have been murdered by an El Salvadorian death squad. ‘He had owl eyes so deep and ringed with dark, he looked like bad memories and brutal worries were at the foot of his bed every night.’ 
 
It’s nothing less than ingenious how Mannheim’s plotting so slyly mirrors the genre it references throughout. Laura’s filmmaker boyfriend “Sam’s big project at school was a film that mimicked the soul of these stories but brought you a beat away from them, a knowing and updated version of noir.” A feat that this remarkable story achieves, too. (GK)

Published in This Way to Departures, Influx press, 2019

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