Black Lens: Part IV

Story by Ken Bruen and Russell Ackerman

Ken Bruen is one of the most celebrated crime novelists of our time.

Black Lens is his most secret project.

Read on as the unveiling continues.

Every Wednesday on Mulholland Books.

With art by Jonathan Santlofer.

Fade in…

Read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.




















The director was back in his study, his kids safely in bed.

He gave a rueful chuckle, “SAFE!”

In this fucked-up psycho world where Ransom got more hits on Facebook than Brad Pitt.

He permitted himself a small shot of amber Glenfiddich, the ultimate whiskey first introduced to him by Johnny Depp.  Allowing himself the rare privilege of an Americanism.

Depp was his kind of actor, no interest in fame, only the work. And the suggested bio-pic of his own self, with Johnny in the lead.

Mais non.

He wasn’t ready for the final chapter yet.

Cochons . . . the nightmares, still they came.


Shit and fuck.

And then some.

The time with the Stones, when Mick was a player. Ah, sacré bleu, the sixties, in Carnaby Street with Susan on his arm.

Golden years.

Tarnished, blown to crap and gone.

He snapped himself out of his reverie, the call earlier, after they’d had the long civilized dinner with his wife and children, petty bourgeoisie.

As if.

Would that he could but he couldn’t.

His mind, despite the years, still seeing everything on a screen, his camera, revolving 24 frames per second tout le monde.

Ah . . . quelque chose.

Quel dommage.

He picked up the latest batch of scripts he’d been sent. Had to put on his reading glasses, even Jack, the vagabond, had to China-town ’fess up to age.

Not that Jack cared, let his belly hang out for the world to see, knowing his smile would lure them as it always had.

. . . emitted a short sigh, a script,

The Ghost by Robert Harris.”

Based on his bestselling book.

Made his heart miss a beat.

And, as in his glory days, he was off and running,

. . . casting

Lentement . . . for the Blair character, shock them

Mais oui, Pierce Brosnan . . .

Since the Irishman’s lethal cameo in The Long Good Friday, he’s watched him.


And the ghostwriter?

Oh mon Dieu, dare he.

He fucking dareth.

Ewan McGregor. Cast him completely against type. A gray nobody, a spectator at the feast

. . . a ghost.

He was wildly excited. Grabbed the phone, dialed and heard

“Jesus, Simon, it’s late.”

His agent, long-suffering, especially as he’d advised against the bloody Pirates fiasco. He rushed

The Ghost, I have to have this, spend whatever it takes, get me this.”


“Ah, Simon, there’s the major problem of  the Americans, it seems they have a complete plot ready to grab you, put one foot outside France, you’re theirs.”

He dismissed this, so many times he’d heard the same song, said

“Just saber-rattling.”

Knowing he sounded like a prick but arrogance is vérité, truth, when you can back it up.

Privately, it wasn’t the Americans he feared most. But rather, some new trend in auteurist criticism that would cause his films to be reevaluated, de-canonized. In such an event, his safe haven in France would evaporate. The French would extend themselves to any lengths to champion the artist.

Their patience for a mere author of  multiplex fare would be far slimmer.

His agent, who seemed to be hyperventilating, said

“Simon, you’re not really . . . bankable, you’ve, in their eyes, had three duds in a row.”

He tried not to scream, then

“I will deliver  Oscar nominations for the Irishman and the Scot, trust me!”

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Ken Bruen has been a finalist for the Edgar and Anthony Awards, and has won a Macavity Award, a Barry Award, and two Shamus Awards for the Jack Taylor series. He lives in Galway, Ireland. Learn more at

Russell Ackerman is Guillermo del Toro’s Development Executive. He is currently working on the film MAMA to be directed by Andy Muschietti, DROOD based on Dan Simmons’ novel of the same name, adapted by Brian Helgeland, and MIDNIGHT DELIVERY written by Neil Cross, all set up at Universal Pictures. He lives in Los Angeles.