I have this dirty secret: I love True Crime. It mortifies me to find such salacious appeal in the foul dismemberment of my fellow man, though, so I make up rules for myself to moderate my habit. I am only allowed to buy True Crime in airports, for instance. I am only allowed to read True Crime on airplanes. (The latter offers the boon of hindering Strangers Who Wish To Talk. Or maybe I haven't been seated next to the right chatty axe-murderer.) So, when TORSO came to my attention I was atwitter: it's BENDIS. I love BENDIS. It's TRUE CRIME BY BENDIS. I have to read TRUE CRIME BY BENDIS. To which the angel on my other shoulder replied, it's TRUE CRIME. It's LURID. You're not allowed to read it until you take your next vacation.
So I ripped the wings off my little angel and stuffed her in a tiny box with the angel who said I couldn't read In Cold Blood and then I made a pot of coffee.
TORSO is a graphic account of an actual serial murder investigation that took place in Cleveland, Ohio in the late 1930's. It's better written than most of what you'll find in the True Crime section at your local airport. Part of that is due to the fact that it's a novel, as opposed to a dry journalistic retelling. Part of it is Bendis's much-lauded gift for dialogue and part of it is the case itself. Our protagonist is Eliot Ness, for instance. As in, Eliot Ness. And he's a straight-up good guy, which is nice. I love anti-heroes as much as the next guy but after a while I want another flavor of ice cream. Our killer is particularly gruesome, and particularly taunting. And our homicide cops are the kind of smart-mouthed tough guys I always fall in love with in Ellroy novels.
If you loved The Black Dahlia and In Cold Blood, you'll love TORSO. If you have guilt about reading True Crime, you can assuage it and still get your fix by reading TORSO. And if you have your own personal collection of crime scene photos, you should come to my house for dinner.
Kelly Sue DeConnick relocated from Brooklyn, New York to Kansas City, MO, where she lives with her husband and artbomb.net colleague, Matt Fraction. Kelly Sue writes the English adaptations of several manga titles published by Tokyopop and Viz. She can be found on the web at kellysue.com.