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What Is Noir Elka Ray

What is Noir? Get Elka’s take on The Librarian Reads:

Guest Post: What is Noir? by Elka Ray

As an author, editor and avid reader, I’m excited to have been invited to write a guest post for The Librarian Talks.

My name’s Elka Ray. I write crime fiction, mystery, suspense and noir.

If you’re like me, up until fairly recently, I didn’t actually know what noir was. So I’m going to explain it today.

Noir is the French word for Black – which is a clue. There stories are not about rainbows and unicorns – it’s a dark genre.

Noir has its roots in the hard-boiled private eye stories of the 1920s – you know the kind – gritty tales of violence, murder, dirty cops and dangerous dames. What sets noir apart from those hardboiled PI stories is the main character – in those old PI stories, while the world around them is grim, you know the hero’s a good guy trying to do the right thing. That is not the case in noir. In noir, you’re not really sure if the lead is a good person. Can they justify what they’re doing? Maybe. Is it morally right? That’s trickier to answer.

It’s this moral ambiguity that defines noir.

My latest book – Saigon Dark – is noir and follows a woman who – faced with tragedy – makes a terrible choice. She’s not necessarily a bad person – but she is selfish, isolated and deceitful. In noir, the main character is often cynical and self destructive. A modern day example would be Gone Girl – you just can’t trust the main point of view. Or The Girl on the Train. The main character is not doing herself any favors.

Another great example of a contemporary noir author is Dennis Lehane. In Live by Night, for example, he leaves you questioning whether a gangster can be a good person. If you want your stories to be black and white – with a happily ever after ending – noir is not for you. But if you like mysteries that are complex and thought-provoking, give this genre a try.

You can find my latest book – A Friend Indeed at – Happy reading!

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