Joshua Hale Fialkov (writer), Noel Tuazon (artist)
Washed-up aging private detective Frank Armstrong unexpectedly receives a client in the face of the local drug lord. He asks to find his missing daughter. Armstrong wants to give up at first, but then sees in this business opportunity to earn money and somehow rehabilitate itself. The only thing that prevents the PI from doing his job decently is a brain tumor. Starting search for the girl with her boyfriend, Armstrong finds him in his own apartment - murdered. There appeares armed mobster hired by the father of the girl, and then suddenly appears disappeared girl, with a gun in her hand. Before Frank manages to do something, he loses consciousness from a brain attack. Thus, turning out between a hospital bed and in the street, leading the investigation, having lost the difference between past and present, Frank saves the gangster’s daughter and unravels the murder of his wife, committed several decades ago.
We have already seen a fair amount of amnesia noir, now we have a new, previously unknown kind – onko-noir. The tumor in Frank’s head gradually kills him, taking away the opportunity to think and live proper life. Detective loses his sense of space and time, not knowing where he is and what year. More frequent attacks lead to Frank coming again and again to the hospital, runs away from there thinking that next attack will definitely be the last for him. Events of past and present have become for detective a single entity. A reader can distinguish them only by art. Noel Tuazon blurs those panels, where the action takes place in the past, and conversely, uses dark lines, if it is present. Tuazon’s style makes this story very old-fashioned: it is a good illustrated pulp-novel, in which you never guess that the action takes place not in the 50s or 60s, but almost in our days. So suddenly you become surprised when there are mobile phones and internet in the book. It is not a believable story; it is a typical PI novel. Much more interesting is how the Fialkov weaves two plot lines in the end, allowing Frank defore the death to correct the mistakes of the past, not allowing history to repeat itself twice.
I should also mention the design of this hardcover (graphic novel was originally released in Kindle-version): between the chapters there are single page insertions, illustrating Frank’s headaches - pain, comparable to the shot in the head; in the end there are sketches, interviews with the creators and bonus story about Frank’s pat.
Fialkov and Tuazon in tandem have created an excellent novel.