Prague Noir

This crime story collection (288 pages) was published in January of 2018 by Akashic Books. The book takes you to Prague. Melissa read Prague Noir and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.

Prague Noir

Pavel Mandys, Miriam Margala (translator)

This is a dynamic collection of hard-boiled detective stories, suspenseful yarns, and classic detective tales, set in all of the neighborhoods of Prague. Take a walk on the Czech capital’s shadowy side.

These stories are all written by Czech authors to deliver a strong sense of the Slavic outlook on life. Spoiler: It’s darker than black shoe polish.

Arranged thematically, the tales are divided into categories including crime teams, magical Prague and the supernatural, shadows of the past, and more. The stories in each section delve into Prague history, culture, and customs through the eyes of the marginalized — criminals, cops, informers, witnesses, and victims — to take you out of the tourist zone and into the hidden hearts of Czechs.

A standout is ‘The Dead Girl from a Haunted House,’ an entertaining romp through a sinister carnival. Our sort-of hero, a cynical private detective, is hired by the patriarch of a carnival family to investigate the murder of a girl who died in the haunted house. Menacing atmosphere and dark secrets abound.

In ‘The Life and Work of Baroness Mautnic,’ we see all too vividly what life was like for the previously wealthy when the communists came to power in 1948. A clever puzzle murder mystery with a nicely ironic ending, it’s also a haunting tale of retribution. Other stories reference the Golem, fortune tellers, modern drug dealers, and the conflict between old-school cops and modern technology.

Each enthralling story lists its location, so you can map each crime story on a current map of Prague. It’s an unusual way to get oriented in the city and explore its darker side.

Such a fine lady, nouveau riche — a house on the promenade falls into her lap, and now she lectures and hustles them. Them, the former working cadres, not so long ago the pride of the nation, as they claimed on the news, on the radio and TV; hard workers who used to work with their hands to make a very nice living… Now, they had to plead for a little money from people like this one. A good-for-nothing, gawping, too-clever-by-half-heir…. — Kateřina Tučková, ‘The Life and Work of Baroness Mautnic’

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