Criminal, Vol. 4: Bad Night, by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips, with Val Staples (Image Comics, 2015)

A cartoonist and former forger gets drawn back into crime by a femme fatale. Another high-quality yarn of dark deeds on the wrong side of midnight; another man in over his head and head over heels at the same time. Series fans won’t be disappointed, and there’s much to relish for those new to the BrubakerPhillipsVerse.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Scene of the Crime, by Ed Brubaker, Michael Lark & Sean Phillips (Image Comics, 1999/2021)

A young San Francisco private eye’s missing persons case turns out to be more complex than it originally appears. This fresh paperback collection of a four-part comic from 1999 preserves a smart contemporary noir-ish story that doesn’t overstay its welcome and which pleasingly plays around with genre and location-specific tropes. Well worth your time.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Later, by Stephen King (Hard Case Crime, 2021)

A young boy has the ability to see and to speak with the recently-deceased. As he grows, this leads to conflict with both the living and the dead. A pacy yarn from the master, balancing crime-related thrills with the paranormal in line with much of his recent output. Won’t win any converts, but again emphasises that King is a supremely confident storyteller. Recommended.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

That Texas Blood, Volume One, by Chris Condon & Jacob Phillips (Image Comics, 2021)

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.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Bad Weekend, by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips, with Jacob Phillips (Image Comics, 2019)

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.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies, by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips (Image Comics, 2018)

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.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Criminal, Vol. 2: Lawless, by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips (Image Comics, 2015)

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.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

The Long-Legged Fly, by James Sallis (No Exit Press, 2012)

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.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.