My rating: 3 of 5 stars
My experience with short story collections leaves me with one general rule of thumb about them: in any given collection, most stories will be just okay, a few will be standouts, a few will be bad or worse. Supernatural Noir falls right into line with that rule.
While none of the stories are outright terrible, most are just fair to middling. There are some standouts, however; Melanie Tem’s “Little Shit,” Joe Lansdale’s “Dead Sister,” Tom Picirilli’s “But For Scars,” and, surprisingly, Caitlin R. Kiernan’s “The Maltese Unicorn” (“surprisingly” because I’d read only one Kiernan book before this story, and hated it with such a passion that I refused to read any more) are the great stories of this collection. They’re the ones that balance the noir and supernatural aspects perfectly, whether it be in the mere ghostly whispers in “But For Scars” or the entire world has embraced the supernatural as in “The Maltese Unicorn”.
The rest of the stories are okay. Solid enough, for the most part, but not as strong or as memorable as the ones listed above, and some seemed to struggle with the noir/supernatural balance well.
My only question is: Why isn’t there a Jim Butcher story in this collection?