It is 1985 and private investigator Ethan Reckless is trying to track down a man who has disappeared. It is during this investigation that Reckless meets Linh Tran, A Vietnamese-born woman who had been sent to the U.S. and adopted shortly after she was born. Linh has the same general demeanor as Ethan – emotionless, steady, focused – and the two hit it off for a brief love affair.
Ethan doesn’t want to pry, but he can tell that Linh has sadness in her life and it finally comes out that her sister, by adoption, has been missing for years. One day, as Ethan and Linh are watching an old B-movie, Linh recognizes one of the women in the background as her missing sister. Ethan, being the P.I. that he is, takes it upon himself to track down the missing woman, but sometimes not knowing the truth is better, or easier, than knowing how someone met their demise. The missing sister was involved with a cult who filmed much of the work and whose followers willing succumbed to sacrifice.
Linh leaves Ethan shortly thereafter, which doesn’t surprise Ethan a bit. He never expected the relationship to last too long, and giving her the information that he did only secured what he knew would happen.
This is apparently the second book in a series, but as is often true with my timing, I had not seen nor heard of the series until now. Still, we pretty much get what we need to know about the character(s) and their work to follow this story. Part of this, though, comes from the fact that there isn’t much to this story.
We get a brief but important introduction to Ethan and his meeting Linh, then we have what feels like the bulk of the book developing the romance between Linh and Ethan. Then finally we have Ethan tracking down Linh’s sister. It’s very straightforward and I wouldn’t have minded just a little more action. We definitely get the sense of a 1950’s noir novel or film, and that works really well. And despite my own wishing for a little more action, I was definitely caught up in the story (it definitely helps that I’ve been in the mood for more noir fiction lately).
The art by Sean Phillips was just a bit lacking. I’m not a fan of this particular style – simple strokes with thick lines and heavy shadows. This particular style always looks unfinished to me, rather than the ‘noir’ look it’s trying to project.
Looking for a good book? The graphic novel, Friend of the Devil, with story by Ed Brubaker and art by Sean Phillips, falls just short of being a recommended book. The story is a little too long in developing and the art is serviceable but not strong.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.
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Friend of the Devil
story: Ed Brubaker
art: Sean Phillips
series: Reckless #2
publisher: Image Comics
hardcover, 134 pages