The Other Side of the Border is a sultry, sun-baked crime drama, set on the border between Mexico and the USA in the late 1940s. François Combe is a crime novelist, taking inspiration from the wild border-town living that surrounds him. He visits high-class local brothels in search of muses, while cultivating his own harem of glamorous assistants and housekeepers, hardly even bothering to hide it all from his long-suffering wife.
When a prostitute is found murdered in the town, Combe takes it upon himself to investigate, not to find justice for the victim, but because he knows the drama and tragedy of real life make better plots for his novels than anything he could dream up alone. However, by waving money around and dragging other people into his investigations, things start getting more complicated and more deadly.
All this makes for an interesting enough crime drama. It probably isn’t long enough for us to really get our teeth into, and the ending feels a bit too hurried for my tastes, but if you like the sound of the setting and crime is your thing, then there’s plenty in Jean-Luc Fromental’s story to engage and entertain.
Philippe Berthet’s art is a good balance to the story. With a muted, desaturated palette he gives the scenery a run-down, desert-ravaged feel. His clear-lined, high contrast characters are all square-jawed men and pencil-thin women, but it fits the desert-noir aesthetic that the book needs.
With a bit more space to develop the characters and the story, this might have made for a more compelling mystery to match the potential of the setting, but for a stronger story with a similar vibe I’d recommend Tyler Cross over this.