Page 45 Review by Jonathan
"Tyler Cross regains consciousness in the dark. Right where he wanted to be - safe in the sweatbox.
"His wounds will heal. The Sicilians will back off for now.
"He has time to sleep, to think.
"All is good."
Not entirely sure I would call having just narrowly escaped assassination by plucking a Mafia boss's eyes out with a spoon, getting battered by guards, receiving thirty lashes from a lunatic angry at the fact you're not going to be bribing him anymore, before getting thrown in the sweatbox for several days 'good'. But then fortunately I'm not Tyler Cross...
Here is the rap sheet from the publisher to tell you why Tyler is doing seriously hard, mortally dangerous time in one of America's most infamous prisons...
"Nury and Brüno (TYLER CROSS: BLACK ROCK) return to their noir antihero Tyler Cross in this ongoing European import series. In 1947, professional criminal Cross ends up on the wrong end of a supposedly risk-free job and finds himself a prisoner in Louisiana's Angola State Farms.
The festering hellhole is mercilessly dictated over by sadistic warden Captain Kroeker and his small army of brutal guards, bolstered by a quartet of man-eating attack dogs - "Anyone thinking about running... me and my babies love hunting".
The inmates' days are a back-breaking tapestry of chain gang slave labour, where the slightest infraction results in torturous beatings and sometimes outright murder. Tough guy Cross stands a better chance than most, but among the inmates are Sicilian mafiosi whose boss has a hit out on him for a mysterious past betrayal.
While enduring ongoing trials and many plot twists, including the prisoners' sexual exploitation by the warden's wife with taciturn grit, Cross begins to plot an escape, made seemingly impossible by the prison's remote location.
Nury and Brüno deliver a taut script and stark, moody artwork rendered in black, blue, and searchlight yellows. As intricately woven as the first instalment, this brutal, cool series remains recommended reading for crime thriller enthusiasts."
That's actually a really great synopsis and brief summation of the merits of the book, perhaps the blurb writer has missed his calling as a trial lawyer! But seriously, nice to see a hype writer nailing it down so perfectly for us, like a mafia stooge enthusiastically hammering someone's tootsies into schnitzel.
I absolutely loved this pulpy lump of period noir crime. I'll have to confess I haven't read the first volume, but I'm certainly going to now. The blurb for that volume states "operating in a similar vein to Richard Stark's classic Parker crime novels, the reader roots for the bad guy while being kept aware that he's a vicious piece of work" and again, that sums up perfectly how I feel about Tyler Cross.
As a massive fan of Darwyn Cooke's PARKER adaptations I can truly say that Tyler Crook is a stand up guy who more than measures up to the Don of master criminals himself in Parker. Story-wise Fabien Nury ensures you will indeed find yourself rooting for the hardass with a heart, not least because nearly everyone else in the story is a complete unmitigated bastard!
Art-wise, whilst it would be nigh-on impossible for someone to match Cooke's PARKER work, which is utterly exquisite in every conceivable way, I have to say Bruno is bloody brilliant. He also captures that period feel perfectly, and the point of comparison style-wise I'm going to make, which given the dapper nature of the creator himself is not entirely inappropriate, would be Seth, though this further benefits from a limited but intensely menacing colour palette. In fact, I had to check the silhouetted head on the front endpapers wasn't drawn by Seth. Why it would be I have no idea, but anyway!
Let's be honest, everyone likes seeing a bad guy trapped in an impossible situation. Just look at how much fun it is watching Theresa May having the ultimate bad one, day in, day out right now! The only difference being that whilst I'd happily see Theresa May rot in a hell hole forever, I was desperate for Tyler Cross to escape...