Just when I think I am out, they drag me back in again.

No, the Mafia hasn’t been calling to recruit me as a button man, let alone a godfather. It is the Noir Novel Syndrome that has reappeared. I thought I had shaken NNS several years ago after it had ruined my credit card standing and filled my living room with several hundred noir paperbacks. I used to buy them 10 at a time from Amazon.com. I believe I kept Amazon in business in their early, fragile days.

The blame, of course, goes to Robert B. Parker who wrote a series of delicious novels featuring Boston’s Back Bay and hard boiled investigator Spencer and his impossibly tough sidekick, Hawk. If either hero had a first name, I never heard it. In addition to everything else, these novels were laugh out loud funny. I read every one. In between Spencer novels, I started exploring Elmore Leonard novels, set in Detroit mostly. The part I loved about Leonard novels is I never knew who was going to survive. Often, the protagonist died in a hail of bullets.

I branched out to Daniel Woodrell and Ken Bruen, plus a dozen others. Once I read a book that I liked, I ordered all the rest of the author’s work. Ten at a time, like I said. I liked to save on shipping costs.

Even I have my limits. The combination of credit card bills and hundreds of books that provide wainscoting in my living room pointed to an obvious problem. I went cold turkey. Almost. If you order two or three books a year after ordering 30 a year, that is as close to withdrawal as possible.

Then along came the latest issue of Men’s Journal magazine. I love Men’s Journal because it offers us exotic, expensive camping and adventure gear that I will never use, plus explorations of mountains and jungles that I will never undertake. Truth be told, I don’t really like camping. I just like the “stuff.” In the latest issue, reviewer Tyler Coates tries the impossible task of rating the “ Best Old-School Noir Novels.” In all noir efforts, he said, “our heroes are flawed, morally corrupt, or immune to grace, and their authors hold a mirror to the unscrupulous society.”

We will skip the obvious works by Raymond Chandler, Jim Thompson, Dashiell Hammett and James M. Cain. We know those.

Almost everyone with a library card has read William Faulkner, one of the greatest American novelists, who captured both the Pulitzer and Nobel prizes. But when we think of him, we think of his masterpieces “The Sound and the Fury” and “As I Lay Dying,” not noir novels. But way back in 1930, Billy-Boy penned “ Sanctuary,” a truly noir novel that featured a “dick” named Popeye. Honest. Popeye kidnaps southern debutante Temple Drake and turns that innocent maiden into “an arbiter of darkness,” Coates warns us.

I must have it, naturally. Who knew?

Likewise, we knew Graham Greene for his political thrillers, romantic sagas and spiritual explorations. But noir? Yes, my son, “Brighton Rock” follows Pinkie Brown, a friendly sociopath who murders a man while terrorizing a coastal town. He seduces a young waitress, the only witness to his crime, one who cannot possibly understand his “deep, evil nature.”

All right. Put it on the Amazon list.

We all love the femme fatale in novels and movies. But in “The Bride Wore Black,” Cornell Woolrich created “the ultimate femme fatale” in Julie Butler, who “leaves a trail of dead men in her wake.” Only hardboiled Detective Lew Wanger senses the connection between the bloody incidents. The book was published in 1940. How did I miss it? I will add this to the list on the basis of the title alone.

With three sisters and three daughters, I am no sexist, normally. But in the noir area, I routinely skip any female authors. Sorry. Apparently, Dorothy B. Hughes is the exception. Her masterpiece, “In a Lonely Place,” features “one of the most notorious antiheroes in literary history: The charming Dixon Steele,” Coates informs us. Dixon teams up with a detective to catch a serial rapist and killer, even though he is actually that serial rapist and killer. Sounds a little like “Dexter,” a personal noir favorite.

I confess that I never heard of “the most notorious antihero” or Hughes, for that matter. I will remedy that forthwith with my next Amazon order.

Stop. That is enough. I don’t want to read any more recommendations. There is no more room on the living room floor.

The only question now: paperback or Kindle?

Emmet Meara lives in Camden in blissful retirement after working as a reporter for the Bangor Daily News in Rockland for 30 years.