Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Quick Sips - Serial Box: Knox [ep01.03 & 01.04]

I’m setting a faster pace with reading and reviewing Serial Box’s Knox in part because I’m still behind the release dates and want to catch up. But really, if I’m being honest, it’s because I reaaaaally want to know what happens next and have been having such a good time reading the series that I find myself cheating a bit to push it up on my schedule. It’s really is a tense and gripping read, a paranormal thriller with a robust queer cast and noir atmosphere that I just want to sink into...well, except for the horror elements that keep me on the edge of my seat. It’s good, people. And I’ll get right to my reviews!


“The Dead Man’s Tale” by Sunny Moraine (ep01.03)

No Spoilers: Following the tumultuous events of the previous chapter, Knox is thrown from relative relaxation into a number of confrontations she definitely wants to avoid. First, with a woman she has a past with. Second, with strangers who are hell bent on stopping her from taking her investigation further. But just what is she investigating? The death of a former client? Or something more mysterious and sinister? The chapter keeps the tension high and adds to the action and noir brooding, Knox able to take and throw a punch but vulnerable as all heck to a smile from a dame of the call of a mystery. Both are probably going to get her into a world of trouble. But it’s trouble I am Here For as the series continues in its lively mix of elements and great take on an intrepid gumshoe looking for truth in the shadows of New York.
Keywords: New York, Mystery, Morgue, Recordings, Queer MC
Review: No I jumped the gun a but in saying that the whole team had been introduced, I guess, but really the core of Knox’s team has been with Danny and Abe. Here we do get to meet Knox’s ex, though, the medical examiner, Ellen. So yay it’s official now! Or, I mean, they don’t exactly _say it_, but they totally say enough that it’s clear that this is not platonic. There’s obviously a lot of history there and the prose paints a complicated picture of it. It’s something of a wound for both women and while it’s not full explained, there’s definitely enough there to know that while they’re not really together, they also still certainly have A Thing. A messy thing that I can appreciate. The chapter also does a good job of really selling the paranormal angle that the series promised, with much more in the way of moving shadows and oppressive forces. There are people with solid black eyes and a recording that has something on it so powerful it gives poor Danny a fit (secretly also hoping everyone in this cast is queer, not gonna lie).

On the mystery front, I love the hook. There’s action with mysterious assailants trying to prevent her from retrieve the package that was left for her. There’s a man who knows he’s going to die straight up hiring her. There’s a number of suspects, including one that Knox has heard of before. And there’s the question of the powerful voices on the recording, and the other hints that this is not at all mundane. It’s a puzzle, and the reader is placed with Knox, who can’t resist a puzzle, especially if there’s the chance there’s catching a killer in solving it. She’s driven, and everyone at this point knows that, tries to help as best they can and otherwise stays out of her way. It’s a mixture of support and enabling that really speaks to me as authentic, that isn’t perhaps the “healthiest” of things but acknowledges that in some things that’s not an option. That you can’t always play safe, so you might as well play to win.

And the whole thing is already turning into a project that I cannot resist. The history is there, solid and compelling, while the cast is fantastic and the pacing is intense. There’s a sense given the shadows and the way Knox sees the world that things could happen at any moment, that the very ground that Knox is walking on, or running on, or skidding along in a breakneck chase with dangerous assailants, isn’t quite solid. That it’s a mask, a thin sheet over something dark and alive and waiting. It’s creepy, but it’s also a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to find out what happens next. A wonderful read!

“The Cold Burn” by Gabino Iglesias (ep01.04)

No Spoilers: Things are heating up in Knox’s investigation---literally, as there’s fire and corpses and secrets aplenty to keep her busy. There’s also a short list of names she needs checking out, which means sending Danny on a little mission and following up with a trip to a kinda trustworthy journalist. All while slowly uncovering something dangerous about...books? I continue to love the descent this series is, Knox digging down through layer after layer of weird and shadowy to find only deeper and deeper shadows. The cast continues to round out nicely and there is even more queer rep confirmed (yay!) so I am a happy camper, glued to the screen as I wait for the next shoe to drop.
Keywords: Murder, Fire, Books, Queer MC, Organized Crime, Journalism
Review: Yassss more queer characters! Kinda had a feeling about Danny but seriously just hoping every single one of these messes is queer. It would only add to my enjoyment of what is an already amazing series. And okay okay I should actually get to the story and not just BUT WHAT IF DANNY AND PAK--no me, stop it. Just continue on your business. Reviewing. Anyway, I like the way that the story keeps plowing forward, Danny getting his own viewpoint, brief though it is, while Knox ends up in the creepiest of New York apartments (rats! evil books! random children! FIRE!!!) where she finds some shit that probably requires a sanity check (I can’t be the only one who’s played that D&D). The horror here is so well done, careful and chilling and strange, giving just enough before darting away again. Each chapter so far has had an expert mix of action and quieter moments and Knox certainly wastes no time as she gather clues and follows her instincts (and psychic visions) toward a truth she can’t yet see and probably isn’t ready for.

And it’s not a small mystery, either, as the focus quickly turns to a gangster, one of his underlings, and a doctor who seems out of place on the list of suspects--except that he’s part of the same mysterious book club that’s been at the center of all this since the beginning. A book club that’s dealing in things that aren’t just queer pulps. I love how those elements are brought in, too, through these glimpses. A book that causes visions. Pictures of a strange monument. A girl who seems connected to it. Violence. People with black eyes. Fire. It’s fucking intense and now would be where I really started hiding behind my husband and making little scared noises. Meanwhile the show must go on and the investigation continues despite Knox being able to see at this point that bad shit is ahead. Bad Shit. And yet she’s not deterred, isn’t backing down. It’s admirable and also just so hard to read at times because all the warning bells and red flags. Through it all, though, the character work and dialogue pops and is utterly charming. The whole cast continues to be strong and I am genuinely rooting for all of them. The series has done a great job of making me care about them as people, of showing that the core is something of a family rather than a company, and hopefully that will be enough to keep them together and (relatively) safe.

And the end of the chapter brings a much needed break, giving Knox the chance to sleep after what has been an incredibly long day. For me, it’s the close of Act 1 of the season. The conflict is established, the characters largely introduced, and the shadows starting to take more solid shapes. But if this is only Act 1, then I’m not sure my heart can take what comes next. There’s no way I’d miss it, though. This chapter only deepens my enjoyment of the series, adding more depth, more characters, and a whole lot more questions that will have to be answered going forward. It’s fun even as I am genuinely scared, and if that’s your jam too then you have got to check this out!


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