The Bronx Kill

Summary: Being a cop was in the Keane blood. But Martin wanted to be a writer even if it meant turning his back on the family legacy.Then his wife goes missing, and Martin is forced to delve into the dark history – and darker secrets – of that same family. It’s a path that will lead him back to the Bronx Kill: that lonely, godforsaken stretch of land where many years earlier his grandfather had been brutally murdered, and where finally he will learn the truth about his wife’s disappearance. It’s a truth more monstrous than he could ever have imagined. Entertainment Weekly “It” writer Peter Milligan (GREEK STREET, HUMAN TARGET) joins forces with New York cartoonist and fine artist James Romberger (Seven Miles a Second) for an urban mystery drenched in family secrets.

The Bronx Kill, by Peter Milligan and James Romberger 8.25

Well, here’s another superb offering from Peter Milligan!

While I’ve read some mixed reviews online, I can’t possibly see why that is so. Granted, the noir genre is worn and tales of murder and complex family dynamics are as aged as the ages, but Milligan found a way to serve it all up in a fresh and flavourful fashion.

To me, the primary ingredient that makes it work so well is the fact that our protagonist is an author who is trying to figure out a family mystery by writing a novel rooted in familial themes and details. In so doing, Milligan takes us from past to present, and from reality to fiction, blending it all together like a master chef.

That our protagonist becomes involved in a mystery of his own -a disappearance- adds to the mixture. So, not only do we have a past mystery and a present one, but also a fictional one (which is typed up throughout the book – with the author’s annotations in the margins, no less!). Keeping it together in one’s mind while reading it isn’t especially a challenge, thankfully, but it’s challenging enough to keep the brain juices flowing.

I just wish that Milligan worked with an exceptional artist for once. I think that, of the books I’ve read thus far, ‘The Bronx Kill’ is his work with the least appealing art. Romberger’s dessins are pretty much elaborate sketches – and not even the inking and shadowing provide any depth to it. It’s alright, but it doesn’t do the material justice whatsoever.

In fact, I would have rated the book more highly if not for the artwork. If it had been conceived even in a rudimentary, but stylistically appropriate fashion, such as Frank Moore’s ‘Sin City’, then I would have been pleased. But this style didn’t work. Everything else about ‘The Bronx Kill’, however, does – from the pacing to the characters to the intrigue to the interweaving of stories.

I’m pleased as punch with Milligan’s oeuvre and am especially eager to read another of his books. I’m aware that this upwards streak (I’ve been fortunate enough to read better and better books so far) can’t last, though. And that saddens me, because I want this to last; Milligan is a fine writer who knows how to give his characters life and give their lives a semblance of truth. A dark truth, but a truth nonetheless.

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