Politics Noir

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Edited by Gary Phillips, Verso, £8.99

Presidential candidates organising the elimination of their opponents via the barrel of a gun; holier than thou politicians burying sexual indiscretions through threat and counter-threat; and plenty of photograph-stuffed brown envelopes - beneath the thin veneer of what the US political elite have themselves termed morally acceptable, lie the selfish, corrupt and entrenched who force their values upon the poor, both at home and abroad.

Politics Noir, a collection of 13 short stories from the likes of Mike Davis and Gary Phillips, exposes not what has happened, but totally believable stories about what might be happening.

The authors' brief was to each write a story exposing the seedy semi-obscured underbelly of US politics. As with any collection of shorts, it can be a bit hit and miss. Some stories keep you turning the pages at a pace, but others are relatively forgettable.

My other criticism would be that there are perhaps too many paint by numbers noir stories here. There are only so many times you can read a story about bribery, hit men, affairs with campaign staff, friends in high places and crooked police officers before it seems a bit repetitive. But, none the less, there are some interesting aspects to the book, not least that uncomfortable feeling that this may be fiction, but it would be far from out of place among the annals of political history.