Tracy Lawless, the lead from the finest book in the Criminal series (Lawless), returns. We rejoin him in Mr. Hyde’s employ one year after we left him. Someone is killing the criminals and corrupt of the city and Lawless must find out who.
The basic whodunit story is simple enough and the killers are revealed to the reader early on. That isn’t the highlight of this book. What is, is the character of Lawless and every other character he meets. Some of whom we know and others might just have a book to themselves in future. That is the beauty of Brubaker’s talent, his adroit characterisation.
Brubaker keeps piling problem after problem on his lead character’s shoulders. Amazingly he doesn’t break or descend into farce. It would be too easy for Lawless to slip from man into superman but he doesn’t. He is just a regular Joe and you know that things aren’t going to go well for him. You just hold your breath to see if he gets the job done before his inevitable fate.
The art is fantastic. Phillips has really reached the top of his game with this series. He has found the perfect blend of detail, shadowing and colour. This is the most colourful of the books with many of the locations having emotionally themed palettes. But this is Noir colour. The flickering streetlamp, the neon sign, the all-night diner provide the nocturnal sunlight that bathes this world.
This builds on, and equals, the tour-de-force that was Lawless. We want more. An incredible Thumbs Up!
Tomorrow: Criminal: The Last of the Innocent – Ed Brubaker