As an enormous film enthusiast, I’m well acquainted with the turbulent, stylistic and oft-violent film noir genre. Thick with suspense and intrigue, the genre yielded some of the best films ever made…but there were many, many times when I just wanted to yell at the screen “Will you just lighten up?” I think Justin Robinson heard me and wrote Mr. Blank.
Rife with conspiracy, Robinson introduces a tale that whilst firmly ensconced within the film noir style, has clear elements of comedy that adds on to the work’s overall enjoyment factor. The titular Mr. Blank is completely clueless as to who is hot on his tails and wants him dead. This lack of awareness allows the author to introduce all of the components that make film noir and thrillers so exciting. There’s lots of action and suspense as Mr. Blank, with all of his evident sarcasm, embarks on his journey to stay alive without falling prey to all of the mechanisms that make certain genres so formulaic and predictable.
Robinson’s strongest suit and where his writing talent shines is in his vast references to pop culture. He manages to make casual allusions to all of the fame and fodder and gossip and historical events that further involves the reader alongside Mr. Blank’s voyage. This is where the comedy comes in. Robinson knocks a few blocks off the tense wall by allowing the reader to take a quick mental break before continuing on.
I also quite enjoyed the detail and time taken by Robinson to document the Los Angeles. Having visited, his take on the grittiness that best describes the city provides a whole new vantage point to the City of Angels. All in all, it’s a quick, entertaining read that does not allow for a passive read; the reader is very present with Mr. Blank along every unique, unsavory and hilarious predicaments he finds himself encountering.