Thursday, April 19, 2012

Liar's Kiss

Written by Eric Skillman
Art by Jhomar Soriano

While I would almost never sit down and read a 'noir' crime novel (there have been a few, but they tend to be more literary, like Seth Morgan's Homeboy), I often find myself drawn to noir comics, such as Criminal.  Way back on Boxing Day (I'm falling further and further behind with my graphic novel reading), I picked up this Top Shelf book for half price by two creators I was not familiar with simply because I liked the design of the cover (the lesson here?  when comics and graphic novels are cheap, people are more likely to take risks on a book on a whim - too bad people can't make a living off that).

Liar's Kiss stars Nick Archer as your typical layabout of a PI who fell into the job because he couldn't really think of anything else to do with his life.  He's not particularly good at his job, but he has managed to land himself a very rich client - Johnny Kincaid - who wants him to make sure that his younger, beautiful wife, is being faithful.  Kincaid regularly photographs Abbey Kincaid sitting around reading, to prove that she is staying at home all night while Kincaid sleeps.  What Kincaid doesn't know though, is that the PI and the woman stage the photos, and then go to Archer's place where they conduct an affair.

This whole set-up seems to be working well for Archer, until Abbey goes home one night to discover that her husband has been murdered.  She is immediately seen as a suspect, and when Archer's batch of photos get mailed by mistake, they both realize that he has more or less sealed the case against her.  From here, the story follows Archer's efforts to keep his lover out of prison, as he deals with suspicious cops and Kincaid's assistant, who has an agenda of her own, which leads back to the art gallery that Kincaid once owned, and the scandal that killed one man and sent another to prison.

The book has a nice pace to it, and a successful twist at the end that I did not see coming completely (there were some hints that something was up).  Skillman avoids the overblown narration of a Raymond Chandler novel, which is a nice change of pace for this type of book.  Jhomar Soriano, the artist, does a very nice job of telling the story, switching from his Eduardo Risso-esque pencils to a more fully rendered style for flashbacks.

This is an effective book from two creators I would be interested in reading more from.

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