A History of Violence

~written by John Wagner
~illustrated by Vince Locke

Yet another example of a book (and in this particular case, a graphic novel) that was subsequently made into a movie. I happened to see the movie first which, at least after the first chapter of the novel, is only loosely based on the story. Names and places have been changed, and the plot goes in an entirely different direction, but the basic premise remains the same.

Tom McKenna is leading an ordinary life in an ordinary small town. Nothing much ever happens River's Bend, Michigan. One night, two men enter McKenna's cafe, armed and prepared to kill (even if not necessary) in order to rob the joint. And that's when Tom astonishingly single-handedly prevents the robbery and kills both men. Lauded as a hero in his hometown, his new-found fame attracts unwanted attention from the Mafia. Three members from Brooklyn start harassing Tom and his family, claiming his name is Joey and that he owes, big-time.

A History of Violence certainly lives up to its title. The story is intense, violent, and even gruesome. And, being a graphic novel, it is, well...graphic. The style of the illustrations took me awhile to get used to; black and white line drawings, they are quite atmospheric, although at times difficult to make out. Regardless, the plot and the art worked very well together.