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.
Episodes in the New Orleans life of an occasional PI, repo man, and (mostly) functioning alcoholic. The first Lew Griffin mystery works as a prequel to the series, establishing the fictional detective’s bona fides. Something of a meta-novel about crime writing and experience, the book’s a cracker, with character and atmosphere aplenty. Recommended.
A Himalayan climbing guide moonlighting as an Everest graverobber stumbles across secrets for which a shadowy agency will gladly kill. Zippy thriller blending international spy-jinks and guilty past narratives with authentic-feeling mountaineering content. Plenty to appreciate and enjoy here. Recommended.
Bodies accumulate as the ghost writer of a radio agony column draws on listeners’ letters in their serial killing. 1940s Barcelona-set deadpan absurdist noir that might be a touch impenetrable at first, but which comes with some useful appendices: based on a real-world radio show. Great-looking though, being rendered in lovely monochrome.
A career thief gets in over his head with a security truck heist. Collecting issues 1-5 of Criminal, this first collection tells a sharp downbeat noir tale with a touch of heart and depth to its characters. Plenty to relish here for genre fans, and for readers of the likes of Westlake/Stark’s Parker novels. Recommended.
An ice-cream seller becomes involved in a combined family feud and turf war. A gentle deadpan scoop of North West whimsy, with just enough melancholy in it to stop it getting cloying. Some neat observations and a couple of decent gags; pleasing all round.
A former Wild West thief, now an elderly writer for the pulps, considers one last heist. Excellent, elegiac genre piece which touches on a wide range of themes: mortality, regret, ageing, being left behind by a changing world. Recommended.
A young man is taken to a remote Irish peat bog for execution. Excellent noir-ish one-shot that goes into interesting, if slightly anticipated, places. Lots to relish all around though, not least in the vivid dialogue and sharp characterisations of the major players.