Black Lens: Part XIII

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, Part 10, Part 11 and Part 12.


The cop was getting excited.

Seriously excited.

He’d read the news about the Manson interview.

He was , as was now his habitual London gig,

sitting at the corner table in the Earl’s Court’s pub,

The Nelson.

It had two major bonuses:

1…..The ubiquitous Ozzie community shunned it.

2. ..It had ice cold Bud.

Thank fook. In a country that prided itself on tepid to warm bitter, a CHILLED Bud was a true find.
He’d learned the custom of asking the barman:

‘Something for yerself?’

Their system of tipping he figured.  What the hell ever, you bought the guy a brew, he treated you like you mattered. Meaning,

His corner table was reserved for him, the next Bud brought to him as he finished the previous.

Got to love it.

His bottle near full as he poured over his research. The birthday of the beast, Alistair Crowley was close.

The same day Manson had been arrested.

And now the interview.

A died in the wool conspiracy theorist,  the cop was of course a few personalities removed from believing in


The Cabal were sure to act.



He had made a separate list of





He never noticed the woman approach, sit on the stool opposite, until she made a gentle throat noise.

Cueing him to look up into the most gorgeous face he’d ever seen outside of the movies, save for


Livid scar stretching from her right eyebrow to just short of her chin. Women were his strong point and usually he never had to fret too much about them as they gave him a wide to widest beat.

He stammered

‘Am, I think you’ve sat at the wrong table.’


‘Jesus, how fucking lame am I?’

She said’

‘I can give you The Cabal.’

He was stunned.

The bar guy was over, a woman like that got attention, asked

‘Something to drink?’

Her eyes fixed on the cop, she said

‘Double Vodka rocks.’

A beat






The drink came and with it…

A bowl of assorted chips and nuts. In England!


The bar guy going

‘’On the house.’

The woman rewarded the fool with a smile of such warmth, he staggered back, muttered:

‘You need anything, I’ll be .. am.. over, like, behind the bar.’

She didn’t laugh, the way most beautiful women would, seeing their power reduce a guy to a blathering idiot.

She lifted her glass, said

‘Del Corazon.’

He nodded, his bud untouched. She sat back, regarded him, then

‘My name is Skylar..

No click

She continued

‘Discarded daughter of Robert and Mary DeGrimston-Moor.’

Click, mega but what?

He asked

‘Why are those names familiar?’

Let him stew.


‘The founding members of The Process, and it’s documented that Manson hooked up with their Church of Final Judgement.’

He scoured through his notes, fuck, nada.

She held out her left palm, said


‘An inverted swastika. Branded into my hand at five years of age by Daddy, the same symbol, faded now that Manson still bears on his forehead.’

Waited while he tried to collate rate this data.

She drained her glass, signalled to her new admirer, refill, then said

‘You think you know evil, I grew up with


Vern Plumee

While they made,

She paused

Her face nearly grey, regrouped,

‘While they made movies, on the ranch in Topanga Canyon.’

She looked stricken and he asked, to try and ground her

‘What do you want with me?’

She said, in icy monotone, like it was rehearsed

‘The Cabal has become aware of your activities.

In two days, they are going …..

they are going, to punch your ticket.’

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.