Eight Million Ways to Die
So yeah, I delved into something I hadn’t expected. Not that it is completely unheard of for me, but it isn’t one I would have expected. Or maybe I am just misleading myself because it isn’t what I grew up with. Or something…
Anyway, to clarify and maybe quit running in circles, I should probably get to a point. Hey, it’s early. I haven’t even had all that many sentences yet. And I procrastinate still and avoid actually getting to a point.
I guess I should just get right to it now. I recently read a comic titled 8 million ways to die. It is a story based on a Lawrence Block story. Right off hand I can’t remember how many comics went into the making of the story but what I read was the compilation of all of the comics in a single volume. This is the way I prefer to read long stuff like this. Put it all into a single collection and let me go to town on it all.
You know, I wasn’t prepared for how good the story was going to be with this one. I couldn’t put it down. Essentially, the hero of the story is a private investigator, but he doesn’t have his license. So, he spends much of his PI work doing “favors” for other people. The “favors” are the things they need to figure out and paying him to do the work of discovering what ever it is they need figured out.
The main gist of this story is a street walker that wants to leave her pimp, but she ends up dead. And he is hired by the girls pimp to figure out what happened. Seems simple enough but this is a noir mystery so pretty much anything could be possible.
Of course, keep in mind that I don’t really go into all the details cause, spoilers, or something. But yeah, I think I gave enough of what is going on to get the idea. As always in the noir type mysteries, what seems like it should be a straightforward run to catching the killer, never is. And it’s funny because of how the title of the book actually makes it into the story. As we are led through the discovery of the killer, Mathew Scudder (our detective) ends up counting the various ways people are dying. It’s cheesy, it’s stupid, but it adds to the fun of the story.
But I digress…
Now would probably be a good time to bring up one of the more interesting points of the story. Mr. Scudder is an alcoholic. Not a recovering alcoholic but a full-blown alcoholic. He is at the early stages of trying to give up the drink and throughout the story he is fighting his own personal demons. Just what we need a tragic hero with all sorts of flaws. This also becomes a plot point when we find that when he drinks, he blacks out and ends up in the hospital. From it we have some misdirection that puts us on the edge when we realize we can’t really trust anything we are looking at within the story.
Anyway, when you look at this one from the most basic stand point, it is everything you would expect of a classic noir. And that’s a strong selling point. You dig into something that you know will keep you guessing while taking you down a path of oddities. Everyone you meet in the story has secrets and flaws that can lead them down dark paths. The question becomes who is strong enough to overcome their own personal demons and prove they are better than they appear to be.
I liked this one. It reminds me why I really love crime fiction and mysteries. I am also reminded of what life was like when I was growing up when it comes to comics. For the most part all you could find were your typical super hero comics. The multi genres of the golden age had disappeared in the quest to keep our children protected from the evils of the world (blame the censors and all their different labels for comics). The different genres have been returning for a while now and there is a healthy selection of all sorts to choose from. The hardest part of that now is finding the ones you want to read. You may end up waylaid into a world of stories you didn’t expect along the way.
If you enjoy these stories, consider leaving some coffee money in the jar or you could buy a book or two. Either way helps keep the stories flowing.