Fabien Nury and Brüno have put out some brilliant graphic novels together but I initially wasn’t so sure about this one. I’d thoroughly enjoyed the noir criminality of Tyler Cross and the literary history of Atar Gull, but The Man Who Shot Chris Kyle isn’t a work of fiction. Instead, from what I’ve seen so far (as this book is only part one of two) it’s an exploration of the real life murder of Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield, who were shot dead on a shooting range in 2013.
Chris Kyle was an American soldier in the Iraq War. He was a sniper who held the highest confirmed kill rate of any American soldier, clocking up 160 confirmed kills. After finishing his service he wrote up his experiences in a book, called American Sniper, which was made into a Hollywood film starring Bradley Cooper. As part of this process he became something of an outspoken media celebrity, famous for his cavalier attitude towards the lives of his enemies, and possibly known for some exaggeration around his post-army antics.
However, as well as running his own security firm, he also did work helping disabled ex-soldiers with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Kyle was no doctor but had suffered his own difficulties on returning to civilian life, and felt that his work bringing veterans back to wielding and shooting firearms in safe conditions would help them through their problems.
It was through this that he met Eddie Ray Routh. But the first time Kyle and his friend Littlefield drove Routh to a shooting range, Routh turned on them and shot them dead.
Nury’s narration is compelling, rolling through the key facts in the run up to Kyle’s murder in a snappy but sufficiently factual way. It reads like a true crime podcast, or a solid television documentary, alongside Brüno’s visuals. Brüno has less to do here setting the scene than in other books of his that I’ve read, but his minimalist style rattles through Nury’s narration with enough detail to bring it all to life.
It’s a very different book, then, but shows how these creators can essentially turn their hand to anything. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it but it’s an absolute page turner. Obviously if you already know the story then I’m not sure what extra you’ll get from this, but as a documentary about a fascinating murder, it can’t be faulted.