cover image Rocks Beat Paper

Rocks Beat Paper

Mike Knowles. ECW (Legato, U.S. dist.; Jaguar, Canadian dist.), $15.95 trade pap

Wilson, the antihero of this fantastic hardboiled criminal noir from Knowles (The Buffalo Job), is a straight shooter; that is, as a cohort tells him, “People seem to have a habit of getting shot around you, and you are usually the one holding the gun.” Wilson, a career criminal, has survived five brutal novels thus far, each page laden with violence, schemes, double crosses, backstabbers, and more besides. This tense thriller draws him into that most classic of criminal capers: a diamond heist. After a key player is killed, the job is called off, but Wilson decides to do it anyway, on his own terms. Wilson is a captivating character: cold, merciless, magnetic, and honest about the world he willingly inhabits. “The games we play are never fair and they never end clean,” he observes. “They just end.” Combining the intense grit of Richard Stark’s Parker series with the amorality of Jim Thompson’s work, Knowles once again delivers a heady brew of tough-guy dialogue, byzantine plots, vibrant characters, and a protagonist who believes only in “an I for an I.” (May)