In Echo Park, a neighborhood at the wrong end of Sunset Boulevard, Joe, a cool cynic, lives marginally. Ironically, he finds himself becoming more involved than he’d planned in the lives of his clients, linked to their dreams and to their despair, and in some cases to their dirty secrets. His financial reliance on a sleazy character who needs pornographic letters to send mail-order brides soon complicates his relationship with his girlfriend, the beautiful Clio. This noir-style novel vividly brings to life an embattled community of mostly have-nots who attempt to survive city corruption, police harassment, and the daily grind with humor and sheer grit.
Good things always seem to come in the small, neat editions packaged in the City Lights Noir series. Joe’s Word gets my nod for the wry wit of its author, Elizabeth Stromme, and for the amused affection she has for an unglamorous neighborhood at the losing end of Sunset Boulevard.–The New York Times
It’s hard to understand why this delightful novel made its debut in France in 1996 and has only just graced its hometown, but it may be that the French love our L.A. noir almost as much–the French publishers even more–than we do. The Joe of the title is a writer for hire, the modern equivalent of a medieval scribe.–Los Angeles Times
Stromme packages her moral message in a pitch-perfect rendition of a postwar crime novel, complete with an existentially slow buildup to the main action and a large helping of sexual perversion. This is the novel Jim Thompson would write if he were still kicking.–Booklist
Intriguing, offbeat noir fiction.–Lev Raphael, Detroit Free Press
Elizabeth Stromme has published two noir novels in Gallimard’s Serie Noir in France. She also writes for Le Monde and the L.A. Alternative Press.