Noirotica: An Anthology of Erotic Crime StoriesNoirotica: An Anthology of Erotic Crime Stories by Thomas S. Roche
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Fiction tends to be measured by its effect on the reader; erotic fiction even more so. Erotica is perhaps best judged by how successfully it turns the reader on, a metric that is, admittedly, so subjective as to almost be useless. And yet, why else read erotica, right? But when erotica is mixed with another genre, its effect on the reader is even harder to gauge because now it must fulfill two mandates simultaneously: be a good erotica story, and be a good other genre story, too. That’s what makes a book like NOIROTICA so difficult to review. Like most anthologies, it has its strong stories and its weak ones. But the overarching problem here is that these are also noir stories, which means there’s very little joy to be found. And sex scenes without joy just don’t do it for me. Another issue is a too broad definition of what is erotic. It’s a subjective matter, obviously, but surely the mere presence of a stripper in a story does not make it erotic. Neither does a detailed description of what’s happening in the adultery photos a P.I. has taken. And yet two of the stories here rely on just those ingredients to fit the bill. I tend to believe the erotic is more than mechanics, it’s mood and fire and irresistibility. It’s being truly alive, which is something noir rarely shows. To be clear, some of the stories here do have some of that. Some of them even have joy in their sex scenes. But that’s only maybe half of them. Still, there’s a lot of talent on display here, and several worthwhile stories. Recommended for the curious, but probably skippable for anyone else.

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