cover image You Were Never Really Here

You Were Never Really Here

Jonathan Ames. Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, $10.95 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-0-52556289-4

Former FBI agent Joe, the hero of this superb short exercise in noir from Ames (Wake Up, Sir!), once specialized in rescuing human trafficking victims, until he was traumatized by finding 30 poisoned girls in the back of a truck. Blaming himself for not saving the girls, he went AWOL. Five years later, he works as a shadowy private operative for McCleary, a former New York state trooper. McCleary assigns Joe to help state senator Votto, a big Albany power broker whose 13-year-old daughter, Lisa, disappeared six months earlier after arranging a meeting with a stranger on Facebook. Votto finally gets a solid lead—a text stating that Lisa can be found in a Manhattan brothel. Joe’s recovery mission goes horribly wrong, and Ames pulls no punches in his buildup to a grim conclusion that Jim Thompson devotees will appreciate. Evocative phrasing— “one or two ships blinked far away on the horizon, like fallen planets, and the ocean was a rolling black tongue, content for the time being to just taste the land”—is worth the price of admission alone. Agent: Eric Simonoff, William Morris Endeavor. (Jan.)