While browsing in a bookshop in Bangkok, on impulse I decided to pick up Phnom Penh Noir (2012) edited by Christopher G. Moore. Apparently it is the second such novel in a series of SE Asian locales, the earlier edition is Bangkok Noir. At any rate the first three stories in the collection are by the most famous writers in the collection: “Hearts and Minds” by English The Killing Fields director Roland Joffe, “The Fires of Forever” by James Grady, author of Three Days of the Condor, and "Love and Death at Angkor" by John Burdett author of the Bangkok series that includes Bangkok 8. All of these get the nourish elements right, however, Joffe’s story felt a bit contrived and cliché, and Burdett can’t write a story these days without including some fantastical elements that mar any realism that he has created-also rife with clichés. The best of the three was Gray’s “The Fires of Forever.” However, these famous writers were trumped by editor Moore’s story “Reunion,” which was one of my favorites in the collection. I know that Moore has written several crime novels set in Thailand, but I have yet to read one and I feel I should give him a shot after reading his story. I was most intrigued by Praba Yoon’s “Darkness I Faster Than The Speed of Light.” I am most familiar with Praba Yoon through his collaborations with director Pen-Ek Ratanaruang, most notably co-writing Last Life in the Universe. The story, not unlike the screenplay, was intriguing and enigmatic, but only six pages in length. There were several first time authors. I’m not sure how to classify the contribution from Kosal Kheiv, a poet-singer who was repatriated to Cambodia after serving time in jail as a teenager, despite spending almost all of his life in the US. Bopha Phron is another local voice, a journalist, who has written a surprisingly compassionate short story about pedophiles in Cambodia. There are typical noir stories set in Phnom Penh from Giancarlo Narciso and Christopher West. While Richard Rubenstein’s story is unusual in that it is set in Cambodia during the rule of the Khmer Rouge in the 70s. Cambodian Suong Mak’s story “Hell in the City” looks at the powerlessness of poor women. Andrew Nette’s “Khmer Riche,” “A Coven of Snakes” by Bob Bergin, and “Rebirth” by Neil Wilford employ the Phnom Penh atmosphere effectively as the other stories. The last selection is a number of song lyrics from Christopher Minko lead singer of the band KROM. Some of the stories are better than others, but also tall of them lend realistic details about the city, Cambodia, and Khmer culture in general. I suppose this is best read as I did as color while traveling in Cambodia and Thailand.