Criminal Macabre: A Letter from B.S./Love Me Tenderloin (2003/2004)

Supernatural Heartwarmers.

We had previously discussed the miniseries Criminal Macabre: A Cal McDonald Mystery from Dark Horse Comics. Today, we’re looking at two shorter—and yet ultimately more fulfilling—adventures featuring the same occult detective.

A Letter From B.S.: A Cal McDonald Mystery

Written by Steve Niles, illustrated by Ben Templesmith

This time around, private eye Cal McDonald receives a handwritten letter from a dead man—as it turns out, gangster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel—asking for his help. Cal travels to Las Vegas, where he helps to reunite Siegel’s spirit with that of his girlfriend Virginia Hill.

This is a short story, so to say too much about the plot would be to give away whatever surprises may lay inside. Suffice it to say, despite (or perhaps because of) its abbreviated length, I actually enjoyed this more than the previously-reviewed Criminal Macabre, which ran for a full five issues. The story was tighter, more focused, and overall just more interesting.

Scene from A Letter from B.S.

Just the idea of receiving a letter from beyond the grave was a pretty fascinating one, and the ghosties and ghoulies were pretty cool to look at. Ben Templesmith supplies the artwork again and he does his thing well.

A Letter From B.S. was originally published in the 2003 anthology Drawing on Your Nightmares, and is the second story collected in The Criminal Macabre Omnibus from Dark Horse.

Love Me Tenderloin

Written by Steve Niles, illustrated by Ben Templesmith

Here we have the greatest Cal McDonald mystery yet. Cal investigates a murder at the Romero Meat Company, only to discover a restless spirit who wishes to be reunited with his love. It may sound similar to the A Letter From B.S. story that we just discussed, but any similarities are just superficial. Here, the loved one is still alive, putting a few kinks into the works. There’s murder, conspiracy, possession, and a lot of heart. But best of all, there’s a god damn meat golem.

I was thrilled to see the return of Mo’Lock—Hell, I think he should have his own spin-off—and the ending was perfect and chilling.

A scene from Love Me Tenderloin

If you only read one Cal McDonald story, make it this one. And then you’ll surely want to read the rest.

Love Me Tenderloin was originally published in 2004, and is the third story collected in the Criminal Macabre Omnibus from Dark Horse Comics.

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