The Department of Truth, Volume Two: The City Upon a Hill, by James Tynion IV, Martin Simmonds & Aditya Bidikar (Image Comics, 2021)

Cole Turner learns more about Lee Harvey Oswald, and about the different factions involved in both suppressing and engineering manifestations of conspiracy theories into real life. The series (issues 6-10 collected here) is now in its stride: cannily assuming that readers either know – or will find out about – Bigfoot, Jim Jones, JFK and the like, we get full-on with the interdimensional weirdness. Volume Three (Free Country) looms.

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

The Park Bench, by Chabouté (Faber and Faber, 2017)

Seasons pass, and a range of people (and a dog) make different uses of the same park bench. Unfolding like a silent documentary, this dialogue-free monochrome graphic novel takes a simple idea and uses it well to tell a series of overlapping stories, linked by place and association. Recommended.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England. But if you’re fond of park benches or of public seating in general – and who isn’t? – then try Benches of Louth.

The Delicacy, by James Albon (Top Shelf Productions/IDW, 2021)

Brothers collaborate on a farm-to-table restaurant: a rare ingredient promises success. While there’s some wonky plotting and not all the story and character threads pay off, this graphic novel is nevertheless a hugely entertaining, brilliantly paced (a rushed coda aside), and authentic-feeling exploration of foodie hubris. Lots to recommend it.

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

Good Night, Hem, by Jason (Fantagraphics Books, 2021)

Three episodes in the life of Ernest Hemingway, each involving recurring Jason character Athos the Last Musketeer. Jason’s laconic, deceptively simple style is, as ever, beguiling. The reader’s given space to think, involving them completely in the narrative, in Hemingway’s life, and the effect of the stranger on him. Recommended.

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

Park by the River, by Barney Farmer (Wrecking Ball Press, 2021)

An isolated elderly man takes daily walks during a pandemic through his local park. Barney Farmer’s third novel (after Drunken Baker and Coketown) is his best yet: more melancholic than splenetic this time out, but no less angry at the state of the world and the plight of those adrift within it. Recommended.

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

The Bomb Maker, by Thomas Perry (Mysterious Press/Grove Atlantic, 2019)

A bomber begins a campaign targeted against the LA police’s bomb disposal squad: a security consultant is drafted in to assist the investigation. While the ending falls a bit flat, this is nevertheless a well-sustained and slick contemporary thriller, with a keen focus on plausible detail throughout. Recommended for the journey if not quite for the destination.

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

The Old Man, by Thomas Perry (Mysterious Press/Grove Atlantic, 2017)

A long-in-hiding former intelligence officer goes on the run when his identity is compromised. Excellent pursuit procedural, strong on plausible detail and on cool rational action throughout. Plenty to appreciate in the approach, and in the confidence on display in both protagonist and author. Recommended.

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

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, by Quentin Tarantino (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2021)

Los Angeles, 1969. The lives of a TV actor and his stuntman buddy intersect with others, including members of the Manson family. A quasi-novelisation of Tarantino’s 2019 movie, taking a different path through the material. Lots of movie and TV arcana, some fun digressions, and a sense of confident ease throughout. Not sure how it’d stand up for those who haven’t seen the film, but it makes the prospect of an original novel an intriguing one.

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