Black Lens: Part VII

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, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6.


Jimmy Scott, pulled himself from the sweat ridden mattress.

His graying hair was plastered to his skull, he muttered

‘Jesus, panic attacks.’

Getting worse.

If that was fucking possible.

He sat on the edge of the dreaded bed, grabbed the Valium bottle, took out the ten, dry swallowed them, prayed to a God he no longer believed in that the pills still his beating heart.

Moved to the shower, got in there and lost himself in icy water for five minutes.

Emerging, frozen, he grabbed his NYPD sweatshirt, pulled it on, then moved to brew the coffee.

Just the ritual calmed him, like normality was close.

The pill was kicking in.

Why he took the suckers.

With the caffeine percolating he could bring himself to look at the chart on the wall.

……………………………The Cabal.

And all the interconnections.

His eyes landed on two infamously intertwined opposing names:


…and Romanski.

8 years of his goddamn life to this.

Cost him.

Jesus wept.

Laura and their daughter, Skyla, the only light in his life.

Laura accusing

‘Scottie, you’re obsessed, like the poor bastard who followed the Zodiac story.’

And the Department, his Rabbi, Captain, Dunphy, head down, saying

‘Gotta cut you loose buddy, this Cabal shit is out of control.

I can’t cover for you anymore.

You’re done.

Get some help.’

Yeah, right.

Your life is fucked every which way but loose,

what’cha gonna do?

He had some money

And a mission.

He moved to London, supposedly the locus point of The Cabal’s power.

Took up residence in a shit hole of a bedsit in Earl’s Court.

Surrounded by Aussie accents, he was literally drowning in warm beer.


Watching his dodgy TV, a half eaten kebab at his feet, he saw


A Sky News segment on the shooting of Von Hecklau.

And he was electric.

He’d claimed for years, to consistent attack and ridicule, that the simmering elements of the Ransom case would eventually come together in a Cabal-backed strike.

Even mentioned in a memo that Von Hecklau might be a target.



And chaos.

The Cabal flocked to these three principles like

Flies to shit

He threw the evil kebab across the room, sat straight up, pledged

‘I’ll fucking get it together, and as the Brits would say,

bury the lot of them!”

His hand reached for his once ever present sidearm,


He’d fix that first thing in the morning.

For the first time in two years, he slept a full eight hours, whispering in his almost forgotten Brooklyn accent



take down


…………the child raper

And the freaking Cabal.

He smiled in his sleep.

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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.