‘Peepland #2:’ Advance Comic Book Review

“Let’s play a little game.  How long can you hold your breath?”
“I told you already.  We don’t do none of that kinky s--t.  Just straight up action, baby.”
“But I don’t like straight-up action, baby. And nobody cares what you like!”

Following the death of public access porn producer and video voyeur Dirty Dick, Nick and peepshow babe Roxy Bell and her on-again, off-again beau, Nick Zero, discover the secret on the tape Dick died hiding, and begin their search for the Central Park slayer.  But the corrupt NYC Police Dept. already has a suspect in their sights, never mind that he’s innocent.  And the powerful forces protecting the real killer are about to make themselves known.

Hard-boiled noir babe Christa Faust draws from her rich background as a peepshow girl herself in Times Square back in the sleazy '80s heyday to flesh out more of this rich, dark tale, this time focusing on the people surrounding Roxy and Nick, as the crime threatens more and more of the Peepland denizens.

Faust and co-writer Gary Phillips deftly resurrect the nostalgic '80s, where the anything-for-sale free-for-all atmosphere of decadence swiftly approached its twilight, dishing out nods to everything from AIDS victims, to cops falsely generating a suspect a la the Central Park wilding, to an arrogant, above-the-law billionaire with a Slavic wife who wants to gentrify Time Square itself. (Yeah, not gonna touch that obvious one.)

But it’s the sense of hope in all the hopelessness that pervades this issue and makes what could be simply a nostalgia piece all the more relevant in this day and age.  Sure, Times Square has been gentrified and the nostalgia of the sleazy and somewhat sinister history of it all now resides in history books and webpages, but the same people still fight for the same chances against the same overwhelming odds.  Then, as now, desperate times call for desperate measures, and this story gets richer for it with each page.

“I want a lawyer for my son.  We gonna wait till the public defender gets here.”
“You’re making it hard on him and you… lady.”
“Make the damn call.”

Verdict:        FIVE Incriminating VHS Tapes out of FIVE

For more information on Hard Case Crimes books, visit www.hardcasecrime.com.
For more information on Christa Faust, visit www.christafaust.com.
For more information on Gary Phillips, visit www.gdphillips.com.

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