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Black Lens: Part XI

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, Part 9 and Part 10.

The Proposal.





The actor was summoned to Cromwell’s penthouse on the top floor of Browns’.

Rhatigan, his stage name, suited him, it was



Had that Brando ring to it.

He’d been a struggling bit part player when Cromwell came to visit him in the piss poor bungalow he was renting at the foot of The Hollywood Hills.

Rhatigan looked like a young second choice Jimmy Woods and the operative word for his career was


Only that would imply it had once been on a trajectory.

It hadn’t.

He was actually considering a part in a third wheel Vampire flick,

a sordid affair where Wyatt Earp had a showdown at the OK Corral with vampires.

That the gunfight would now have to be shot at night was neither here nor vampish there. Cromwell had visited, with a silent minder who stared at Rhatigan with fish eyes.

Cromwell said

‘You’re going nowhere.’

Rhatigan nearly lost it but something about Cromwell shut him up.

The Cabal plan was outlined. He felt they were a bunch of paranoid escapee’s from Fringe.

Until Cromwell casually tossed a wad of tightly bound hundred’s on the second hand table, said

‘All we ask is you are available to us at a days notice.’

The cash had him riveted.

The came the sweetener.

Cromwell reached for a thick sheaf of papers, said

‘Sign here and you have the lead in


The hottest property in the city of Angels.



all had auditioned for it,

rumor had it that Downey Junior had the part.

Rhatigan gasped


I mean that’s impossible.’

Cromwell clicked his fingers and the silent one handed him a Gold Zippo.

Cromwell flicked it, bent down to the contract

‘Burn or believe?’

He believed.

Got the part too and in jig time, was braying at the heels of the A-listers

But Rhatigan wasn’t an utter idiot, he knew such riches would entail a price and asked

‘What’s the catch?’

Cromwell smiled, showed his smile, a blend of guile and evil, said

‘We chose you carefully, we’ll give you the stars, you give us…

your complicity.’


A reasonable sounding word, depending who used it.

For two years, they asked for


He began to believe his success was actually his own doing.

Then Sundance.

A letter pushed under his hotel room door.


‘Be in PARIS in two days’.

Also in the envelope:

A first class ticket and reservation in his name for The Grand George hotel.

Rhatigan decided to ignore it.

Discover exactly who he’d got into bed with.


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.