Friend of the Devil


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PUBLISHERS WEEKLY -- Ghosts of the 1960s and '70s haunt this bruising second entry in Brubaker and Phillips's bloody-knuckled L.A. noir series. It's 1985 and ex-FBI agent and current paladin for hire Ethan Reckless is grinding through private-eye cases, mourning his father, and losing himself by watching old sitcoms at his shuttered movie theater office. Falling hard for Linh Tran, a tough-as-nails library clerk, he agrees to help find her sister Maggie, who vanished into the Hollywood fleshpots years before. After spotting Maggie in the background of a crummy exploitation flick, Ethan begins pulling at the tangled threads of a seedy operation and unravels a tale of the city's fall from hippie optimism, with movie producers taking advantage of fresh-off-the-bus ingenues, an Aleister Crowley meets Charles Manson cult, and Nazi skinheads ("for some reason, there always had to be skinheads"). Ethan pursues his leads doggedly but with a baked-in cynicism, knowing that after solving the case he and Linh would just "wait for the truth to destroy us." The art is varied, richly colored, and grittily textured as old film stock. Despite the series' dour lead, the sharp cultural references, bone-deep knowledge of the Southland, and pulsing through line of righteous heroism will make readers eager for Ethan's next reluctant adventure. (May)

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