When an audience thinks of noir they think of Sin City, classic pulp detective movies and a guy with a quest and a loaded gun. The Soul Standard gives us a loyal representation of that, with Thomas, Ross, Taiari and Korpon giving us 4 interconnected stories that show different parts of a city that has fallen from grace and is now a cesspool of the darkest things imaginable in the human mind. These are the things that the writers aren’t shy to turn away from: child trafficking, drugs, revenge, murder, organ transplants and rigged fights.
Readers will be delighted at how well these stories fit together. While some authors struggle to make a voice consistent and varied enough to make a short story collection work, these four authors complement each other’s strengths. Ross shows us the level of corruption that exists, and that people in the highest towers tend to be the most crooked. Korpon shows us what a man will do to survive and for the people they love, writing one of the best fighting scenes that I’ve read in a long time. Each punch of Korpon’s story lands, and even outside the boxing ring it’s a gritty and well written tale that will keep those pages turning so quick a breeze will form.
Thomas shows us what a man will do to make things right for his daughter, but not exactly the shining example a father should be. Thomas’ story is packed with action, interesting characters and mysterious substances that makes it a joy to read.
Finally, closing the pages is Taiari, with his detective story. This story reads so well it’s almost as if you’re watching it unfold in front of your eyes rather than reading it.
All four of these stories are tightly knit prose. Thy are a testament not just to the genre, but to four fantastic writers who aren’t afraid to try something different, and succeed as a result. Know that this is a fictional city, or hope, at least. But by the end of reading it it’s a city that will feel as alive to you as the one closest to your home, you just pray that they’re not the same one.
Pick up The Soul Standard if you like excellent world building, dynamic characters and if you thought that the Sin City sequel didn’t quite hold up to scratch. There’s no real reason not to pick up this book, actually, except if you’re afraid that you’ll see your world in this one.
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