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Black Lens: Part X

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 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8 and Part 9.

Having delivered his ultimatum Cromwell paused.

Watched his flock

Some calm


Some on edge

Clearly nervous

Steeling  themselves for

The foreordained

A collective bloodletting.

A solid oak chest was presented to Cromwell.

He set it down to one side of his right hand.

The direction of action.


And the decree of

Difficult decisions.


‘We are

The Chosen

The Lions of the tribe of Judah

The Root of David


We shall sweep all before us,

as always,

has been.

The madman,


Served us well.

A highly functional weapon for the precipitation of

Social unrest.

And thus

We have allowed his continued existence to


As it suited a purpose only now terminating. ‘

Cromwell watched the faces in his audience, his eyes scanning from one to the other as he registered their


Silent plotting

Various furious attempts to stay one step ahead of his thinking.

A slight smile leaked down the side of his noble sculpted jaw,

As he continued



In a fine dramatic gesture,

Opened the chest,

Withdrew a lethal looking blade,

With what appeared to be blood stains along its shining length.

Peering for just a moment at the gore that scored the weapon

He tossed the blade into the air.

Watched it land with a dull thud dead in the center of the banquet table. Said,

‘The blade the prosecutor Buglosi never found, the sheath of Bianci.

I have kept it concealed while waiting for the


who will prove to be the next instrument of our

secret order.’

The flock needed little more preamble.

An aspiring movie star, on the cusp of greatness,

suddenly grabbed the blade,

Plunged it into the heart of the fat accountant to his left.

Blood sputtered fast and un-ceasing across the pristine white table cover.

Shocked gasps, murmurs arose,

Cromwell held out his hand, beckoning the actor to step forward and claim his reward.

Said simply:

‘Bear witness to the black lens of our next step.’



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.