Another graphic novel in Titan Comics’ Hard Case Crime imprint, which has previously published Peepland, this is another adult crime story designed to gather up your expectations and throw them to the wind. Set in the 1970s, it picks up the gritty end of the sexual revolution and runs as far and fast with it as it can.
The book has been written to evoke the feeling of 1970s crime movies, like Taxi Driver and All The President’s Men. Fans of these kinds of films won’t be disappointed, as it ticks many of the boxes. It also has a grindhouse feel to it, as it isn’t just about struggling cops and corrupt politicians, but also about prostitution and dangerous fetishes.
Normandy Gold is a small town Sheriff who ran away from her abusive family when her little sister was just eight. Many years later she gets a phone call from her sister, who is now a high class prostitute in Washington DC, with clients who occupy high levels of government and have unusual, expensive and ultimately dangerous tastes in sexual gratification. Unfortunately, by the end of the phone call, Normandy’s sister appears to be having a violent struggle with a client who has barged in on her, so Normandy drops everything to go and investigate.
By the time she arrives there’s no trace of anyone, and no-one is prepared to talk to Normandy about it, except for Washington’s only honest detective, who supplies her with a bit of help from local police files. So, instead of continuing in the standard police investigative manner, Normandy goes deep undercover, taking over her sister’s business and clients in the hope she can sniff out her sister’s whereabouts and get revenge on her aggressor with an unnecessarily large knife. This is the bit where the plot drifts off into its own world of hard-boiled narcissism, and to be honest it only gets more insane, but it’s an all-in story treated with po-faced sincerity and a certain gung-ho, no-holds-barred relish.
The art embraces this concept and runs with it, shying away from nothing that might come up in a story about a murderous high-class call-girl, from extreme violence to nudity and sex. It’s a character piece, though, so is really about the core cast, who are illustrated clearly and well. Because of the writers’ desire to recreate a 70s movie feel, many of the characters were created with actors in mind, so Scott has used this to good effect, making characters who look familiar and seem to be of the right time and place.
Overall it’s an entertaining read but a little over-cooked in places. Normandy is a great main character, as tough and psychotic as any male cop from a 70s movie and perhaps more so than most, given how deep undercover she travels. If you like your thrillers darkly dripping with corruption, violence and sex, this over the top drama is suitably extreme.