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Nothing’s more surprising than the truth: Brooklyn Noir returns

The Brooklyn Paper
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In 1977, during the “summer of Sam,” a younger Tim McLoughlin was going to school part-time and driving for the neighborhood car service in Bay Ridge where he lived.

But he kept a notebook hidden under the driver’s seat and used to write in it between calls. He wanted to be a writer some day.

Thirty years later, McLoughlin is not only a writer, but a successful and celebrated one.

That notoriously hot and hectic summer of 1977 when teenagers all over Brooklyn nervously joked about crossing paths with the .44 caliber killer became the basis for McLoughlin’s first novel, “Heart of the Old Country.

The novel is now being made into a film called “The Narrows starring Kevin Zegers, Vincent D’Onofrio and Sophia Bush.

McLoughlin is also the editor of the wildly successful “Brooklyn Noir” crime series for Akashic Books launched in 2004.

The series has proven so successful that it has grown to include 15 other cities and three other boroughs. Another 15 “Noir” cities are on the way.

This week he officially launches the third installment of the “Brooklyn Noir” series called “Brooklyn Noir: Nothing But The Truth” with co-editor Thomas Adcock at a special reading held at the Brooklyn Historical Society, 128 Pierrepont Street.

Similar readings will take place at five locations around the borough and one in Manhattan through July.

“I adore the readings,” McLoughlin says from his Brooklyn Heights home. “Most of the time people want to stand up and correct something in a story. It happens almost all of the time.”

“Brooklyn Noir 3” is a departure in the series in that, for the first time, the editors and publishers decided that this time out all of the sordid tales of street hustlers, clock punchers, beat cops and court officers would be real. Nothing would be fictionalized.

“It turned out to be a lot tougher than I thought it would be,” McLoughlin says.

As McLoughlin explains, some writers openly balked at tackling non-fiction work and he found it difficult assigning stories to different people and telling them to start “knocking on doors” to get the dirt.

Some just couldn’t do it.

In the end, McLoughlin and his co-creators assembled a group of writers that included some of the most acclaimed journalists in the city like Errol Lewis and C.J. Sullivan.

But he says landing big-name writers wasn’t the goal – connectivity and authenticity were.

McLoughlin knew he wanted a story related to serial killer David Berkowitz’s reign of terror.

“It was huge in terms of our young lives,” McLoughlin says.

Many might consider being so profoundly affected by the darkest part of the human psyche as a kind of stain on one’s own soul, but when it comes to crime – especially the kinds of crimes committed in the borough he loves -- McLoughlin says there exists a certain kind of weird reassurance.

“If anything, it gives an odd sort of comfort,” he admits. “As much as Brooklyn has changed dramatically in the last few decades, other than the horrific crimes the minor ones have a similar edge. They don’t change much. The players don’t change, the neighborhoods change a little, but scamming and hustling remains the same – the only thing that changes is the technology.”

McLoughlin says he’d like to do at least one more installment in the “Brooklyn Noir” series and then perhaps do a collection of short stories penned by Brooklyn immigrants.

“That would be a lot of fun having people from all corners of the globe,” he says.

A few might even be police officers, detectives or district attorneys. According to McLoughlin, people in law enforcement have a special affinity to writing. McLoughlin derived much of his own crime-related inspiration from his job as a court officer.

“People in law enforcement are used to asking questions and listening,” he says. “That lends itself to looking for answers, which is what the best writers are always doing.”

Tim McLoughlin and Thomas Adcock will read selections from “Brooklyn Noir 3: Nothing But The Truth” along with some of the book’s contributors: at these locations and times.

June 5, 7:30 p.m. at Word Books, 126 Franklin Street; June 10, 7 p.m. at Barnes & Noble-Court Street, 106 Court Street; June 19, 7 p.m. at Barnes & Noble-Park Slope, 267 7th Avenue; June 25 from 6-8 p.m., Brooklyn Bar Association, 123 Remsen Street; July 15, 7:30 p.m., Tillie’s of Brooklyn, 248 Dekalb Avenue.

“Brooklyn Noir 3: Nothing But The Truth” is available through all major booksellers. Log onto akashicbooks.com for more info.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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