By Warren Ellis
Available now from Mulholland Books (Little, Brown)
Warren Ellis is mostly known for his work in comics, and I think there's something comforting in his work in comics that isn't there in plain text. There's a picture, right there, of something gruesome, and it's almost always a little funny because some things become too much when they're drawn. But when the brain matter flies in GUN MACHINE, you imagine it. And I've got a good imagination.
Detective John Tallow's life as a cop wasn't that exciting until the day his partner dies. It leads him to discover a giant cache of guns, each connected to an unsolved murder. He's uncovered a prolific serial killer and there's no real evidence in sight. Even though he's supposed to be on leave due to his partner's death, he's assigned the case because no one else wants to go down with the ship. The only help he has are two CSUs, Bat and Scarly.
Tallow drives the plot of GUN MACHINE through sheer force of will. He's on the verge of a breakdown, but he's determined to catch this guy. But even as he begins to see the patterns at work it isn't enough because there is no evidence. It's nice to read a story about a cop who is preoccupied because he's close to solving the case but can't prove it.
GUN MACHINE periodically slips into the mind of the killer, who is completely crazy. He's not the only crazy person in the book, but he's distinguished by being the craziest. As chilling as he is, however, the people who are complicit in his actions are even scarier because they aren't raving mad. GUN MACHINE is full of bad people doing bad things, but it's not a downer. In fact, it's far more optimistic than most noir. It's an exciting, fast-paced maze.
If you love pulpy, modern noir, then pick up a copy of GUN MACHINE. It's quick and dirty and sometimes it's even funny. And I love the cover. You can't see it in a thumbnail, but there's a map superimposed on the gun. If you do read GUN MACHINE, pay attention to the maps. They're important.