Peepland by Christa Faust #BookReview

When a chance encounter for Peepbooth worker Roxy Bell leads to the brutal murder of a public access pornographer, the erotic performer and her punk rock ex-partner Nick Zero soon find themselves under fire from criminals, cops, and the city elite, as they begin to untangle a complex web of corruption leading right to city hall.

Title: Peepland | Author: Christa Faust, Gary Phillips and Andrea Camerini | Publisher: Hard Case Crime | Pages: 128 | ISBN: 9781785851193 | Publication date: 1st August 2017 | Source: Self purchase

I’ve yet to read something by Christa Faust that I didn’t like. Her Angel Dare books ‘Money Shot’ and ‘Choke Hold’ (both also available from Hard Case) are blisteringly enjoyable hardboiled thrillers. Her lesbian detective novel ‘Butch Fatale, Dyke Dick – Double D Double Cross’ is a blast and her entry in the ‘Dead Man’ series ‘The Death Match’ was probably the best. In ‘Peepland’ she turns her hand to comics and the result is a semi-autobiographical tale of sex workers in 1980s New York that’s filled with the frank grittiness of the Angel Dare books. It’s explicit, grim, heartfelt and I loved every page.

The book collects issues 1 to 5 of the ‘Peepland’ comic and tells the story of Roxy Bell, a performer in a peep show who finds herself in possession of a video tape which documents a murder. Needless to say the killer wants it back, and Roxy and her punk boyfriend end up trying to avoid getting killed while also clearing the name of the son of one of Roxy’s co-workers who is falsely accused of the killing.

The book is dripping with atmosphere and rich with incidental detail, drawing on Faust’s experiences as a sex worker. It’s funny, honest and unexpectedly warm. That sets the backdrop for a plot involving a powerful businessman and corrupt officials which isn’t desperately original, but which is told with passion and a powerful narrative drive. It’s bleak stuff at times, but always engaging, with detestable villains and likeable underdog heroes.   

Faust shares writing credits with comic writer and novelist Gary Phillips. I’ve not read him before, but based on ‘Peepland’ I will be again. The art is from Andrea Camerini and it’s great – vibrant, colourful and packed with energy. The book also features all of the cover art for the individual issues (which is often great) and nice postscripts from Faust, Phillips and Hard Case editor in chief Charles Ardai.

It’s a quick read, but an enjoyable one that I can see myself revisiting. An easy recommendation for crime and graphic novel lovers and another hit from Faust.


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