Black Lens: Part XXV

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 8Part 9Part 10Part 11,Part 12, Part 13Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19 Part 20, Part 21, Part 22, Part 23 and Part 24.





Romanski, standing in his study, staring out the large window, a gilt engraved invitation at his feet.

The prestigious German Film Academy wished him to attend a special screening of maybe his most accomplished movie. The Composer.

He relished the iron control he’d wielded then.

Phew oh.

Forbidding even the money guys from visiting the set. He told them basically nothing to such an extent they began to dub him, God.

The most difficult action he’d succeeded in, having the actors walk pass the bodies of children and never to even notice.

It was suggested by a psychologist that he was trying to explain to the world, how it’s possible to become de-sensitized.

He then confounded everyone by doing the shoot in Poland.

One of his harshest critics conceded

‘First time I saw him wear his glasses in ten years

Then added with withering scorn

‘Thought he only used them to read wine lists.’

Romanski sighed, wondered where that iron discipline had gone, that utter focus he’d had.

The stray thought, Ransom’s almost twin focus but on murder had been remarked on.

He drew up a huge amount of phlegm, hawked a large spit, muttering


He pushed the final image of his masterpiece forefront to his mind

………………….that single shot

..the musician sitting on stage, the Nazi with the Luger at his head, urging

‘Make music and live.’

Black lens tight on the actor’s face, the sweat, beginning to run down his face, a slight bodily tremor evident.

‘Bien Sur.’

He cried.

Invigorated by this, he moved to the drinks cabinet, choose a rare to rarest Sauvignon, poured a glass, took in its aroma, then carrying the wine, he moved to his director’s chair.


‘J’etais un force formidable.’

Who else, what other director mixed, manufactured and applied to his actors, his own brand of blood.  A spark of the anger then. Of course, they made all sorts of psychological merde of it, one newspaper saying

‘He was going through something with that blood.’

He glanced at his bookshelves, a metal sign, made by a soured admirer, quoting that infamous description

………………………resembling one of Beckett’s gaunt existential clowns, shambling through a barren, bombed out landscape clutching a jar of pickles, he is the walking punch line to a cosmic jest of unfathomable cruelty.



Le Temps



His whole body trembled.

All those years, Sacre Bleu, damn nigh a lot of his career, the specter of the psychopath informing every move he made. Almost a demonic twining. Even their height was the same.

And Mon Dieu, they were both, albeit universe’s apart, eerily alike in a white light lens of intensity, a black mirror of obsession.

The director tried to imagine his life with that malevolent entity erased.

With all his astounding creativity, his ice vision, his ability to leap beyond all imaginings, he couldn’t

Mais non,

Such a leap was not containable in his black lens.

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.