Summer reading is usually associated with breezy books to be enjoyed poolside or at the beach. There's a popular correlation between lighter reading material and the hotter months, but the idea of darker narratives strikes me as a way to stay cool during the long days of summer. Dipping into a deep and stylish mystery can provide an escape synonymous with vacation while voyeuristically entering the shadowy world inhabited by the heroes and anti-heroes of noir. Besides, what's cooler than a well-crafted story with detectives and drifters and those cast to the fringes of society? We may not envy their existence, but their stories are fascinating and insightful and bound to cause a much-needed summer breeze from the rapidly turning pages.
What I've assembled here is a suggested summer reading list of noir-oriented titles that are as hot as summer days and as cool as evening shade. These are novels of distinct literary accomplishment with plot-driven narratives that avoid the formulaic - and I've included one of mine as well. Some may be familiar and some may not, but summer is the season of both adventure and routine, so dive in and enjoy these cool works from the hot authors of literary noir:
Andrew Cotto is the author of Outerborough Blues: A Brooklyn Mystery (Ig, $15.95)