Joe Ledger: Unstoppable

As the protagonist of five novels and numerous short stories, Jonathan Maberry’s Joe Ledger is a fully formed character with recognizable traits. This new anthology, JOE LEDGER: UNSTOPPABLE, shows how a group of other authors, selected by the Editors, handle Ledger and his various missions with the Department of Military Science (DMS). The stories vary in both length and perspective, but adhere to the series’ combination of thriller and science fiction, and are for the most part worthy additions to the Ledger canon.

In “Banshee,” by James A. Moore, Ledger, with the able assistance of his DMS teammates Bug and Bunny, tracks down a nearly invisible, possible female assassin that has been murdering foreign diplomats. The method of the murders further suggests the assassin is something other than human. In Steve Alten’s “The Honey Pot” Ledger wakes up to find himself naked in an expensive Paris hotel room, with a beautiful girl in his bed and no memory of how he got there.

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How Comics Work

I’ve never been a big Dave Gibbons fan. I’ve read, liked and appreciated his work, growing up with 2000AD through WATCHMEN and GIVE ME LIBERTY amongst many other marvels, but to me he’s always been like the Kubrick of comics: precise and magnificent, but also somewhat cold and aloof. I like squiggly lines and minor mistakes, more organic and free flowing styles over realism and accuracy. Thus Gibbons’ work has always rather eluded me; it’s one of the reasons WATCHMEN wasn’t the big deal that DARK KNIGHT RETURNS with its fuzzy blobs of stylized ink was.

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The Blood Card

Elly Griffiths writes two masterful mystery series: the one about forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway, now up to nine books in the series, and another featuring Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens and his magician friend, Max Mephisto.

This latter series is set in early 1950s England (compared to Galloway’s contemporary time frame) and has a decidedly old school feel to the storylines. Both series I highly recommend. Griffiths has a smooth and silky writing style with nicely-paced short chapters, realistic dialogue, super-dynamic characters that are well rounded and interesting even while showing vulnerabilities, and she just manages to write a darn good story.

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ALACK SINNER: AGE OF INNOCENCE from IDW’s EuroComics is a contender for the best book of the year. This brick collects within its 400 or so pages several stories featuring the titular private eye interacting with New York City and its denizens in the unwashed ’70s.

For me personally, this book is what the first three Ramones albums, or Scorsese’s TAXI DRIVER or Barry Shear’s ACROSS 110th STREET, the pages of PUNK magazine, the novels of Chester Himes or Sol Yurick, and all those other quintessentially grubby but vital New York works of art are.

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The Usual Santas: A Collection of Soho Crime Christmas Capers

Christmas comes early this year, thanks to Soho Crime and THE USUAL SANTAS, a collection of Christmas-themed short stories by many of Soho’s celebrated authors.

The stories are grouped into three main sections. The first, “Joy To The World: Various Acts of Kindness At Christmas,” includes “Chalee’s Nativity” by Timothy Hallinan. Chalee, a homeless Bangkok street child (first introduced in Hillinan’s novel, FOR THE DEAD), spends her evening drawing figures she sees in a holiday store window. But Chalee’s friend, Apple, is soon bored and takes off into the crowded Bangkok streets. In the title story, by Mick Herron, eight Santas traditionally hired by a huge mega-mall outside of London suddenly discover a ninth Santa in their midst. How they unveil the imposter adds to the hilarity of the story.

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