A career criminal needing money takes on a card game heist against her better judgement. Excellent professional thievery thriller: smart, fast and lean with a protagonist to root for. Plenty to relish here for genre fans: the first of four novels to date featuring Crissa Stone. Recommended.
Challenged to write a memoir, a stand-up comedian instead hires a ghostwriter. A meta spin on the celebrity autobiography, As with much of his career, the impression here is that Macdonald’s prime audience is himself: that’s a good thing, as this is funny, challenging in places, and wholly dishonest throughout. I loved it.
A man returns to Texas after the killing of his brother: trouble ensues. Decent if ever-so-slightly overwritten Lone Star State neo-noir (anthologising issues 1-6). Wears its influences (No Country For Old Men, Taylor Sheridan screenplays etc) on its sleeve, so there’s no real surprises, even if it’s all capably done, and makes Volume Two a worthwhile prospect.
A monograph discussing the 2013 Doctor Who 50th anniversary special. An engaging and freewheeling exploration, too, probing the episode’s links to wider Who canon, its storytelling approach, and to the ways it exemplifies a postmodern attitude to story. By no means the final word on the episode, but Stuart offers plenty to think about, and makes some interesting connections.
Jacob is tasked with chaperoning a cantankerous comics veteran at a convention: matters soon spiral. Excellent and slightly meta stand-alone story with links to the wider Criminal universe. Plenty to relish, not least in its playing with comic book industry legends, noir tropes, and the flipside of niche fame and success.
Reflections on creative writing: access, opportunities, and restrictions in 2021. An excellent short overview, with comedy writer Cohen bringing his decades of experience to the table. A focus throughout on the impacts of coronavirus and the internet, and on the need to both re-evaluate goals and directions while seeing new realities as chances. Recommended.
Three linked stories: a boxer, a bar worker, a gang lord’s son. Polyperspective genre thrills, plus something of a meditation on the codes and conventions of noir fiction. Plenty to enjoy here, as Brubaker and Phillips continue to both abide by and challenge the limitations and interstices of the genre. Recommended.
A young woman with secrets, fresh to rehab, finds love and with it, a reason to abscond. Smart, melancholic story of crime, addiction, inevitability, and trust. Billed as a Criminal novella, this stand-alone graphic story comes at noir from an unusual – though fitting – angle. Recommended.
A man absconds from military service to get revenge for his younger brother’s death. Issues 6-10 of Criminal are collected here, offering a second punchy (literally and figuratively) noir tale of violence, robbery, sex, and inevitability. Consistently great, and pleasantly uncompromising in its focus on genre thrills and character. Recommended.
An overview on current thinking on diet and nutrition. A clear, comprehensive and accessible account of contemporary science related to diet, obesity, and weight control. As might be expected, there’s a lot of bad advice/science to overcome, and a radical rethinking of nutrition advice given made, so the Western obesity epidemic might be approached. Recommended.