Larry B. Max works for a secret special unit of US Internal Revenue Service (IRS). But he isn’t your everyday bean counter. The IRS pays Larry $250,000 per case to take on and unravel the accounts, and often the lives, of terrorists, wealthy corporations and gangsters. But the assassination of Luc Cretier, a Swiss banker in California, puts Larry on the line–will IR$: Taxing Trails be his first and last adventure?
In todays must read graphic novel by writer Stephen Desberg and artist Bernard Vrancken only one thing is certain, death and taxes –and good old Larry is an expert in both!
Read on to learn more about this exciting graphic novel, because Larry gets evidence that the hit was ordered by Abraham Loewenstein, a rich New York businessman whose parents died in Auschwitz.
Was the hit revenge against the establishment that stopped Jewish survivors from claiming their family fortunes hidden away in Swiss banks?
What about the 3 million dollar that the dead Swiss smuggled into the US? Was Cretier blackmailing the same banks that Loewenstein has been fighting against his whole life?
IR$: Taxing Trails is a fast paced take on taxation like you have never seen before!
The [email protected]$$ Taxman You DON’T Want to Get Audited By
Larry B. Max is an interesting man. He lives in a villa, wears bespoke suites and drives luxury cars. He also keeps calling an ‘erotic’ phone chat line just to talk to a woman calling herself ‘Gloria Paradise’.
And that is before he busts up convenience store robbery by shooting both the thugs and an overeager sales clerk. When the cops show up a quick check of his ID gives them only one directive, do not interfere with this man!
After wishing the officers a good night Larry is off to a hot date with a woman called Deborah Gaines.
Who turns a gun on him on the morning after, when she catches him going through her stuff. When she finds out that our man is from the IRS she can’t believe it!
Larry makes things very clear to her. He doesn’t care whom she has killed, but not declaring her income to the IRS is unforgivable! If she doesn’t want to incur interest and fines on her undeclared income, she better tell Larry who ordered the hit on the Swiss banker.
This leads him to the squeaky clean New York business magnet, Abraham Loewenstein. Pretending to be a journalist investigating the theft of Jewish gold by Swiss Banks, he gets an interview with the tycoon.
Loewenstein lets it slip that without Swiss billionaire Moshe Geldhof his crusade against the Swiss banks would have died a long time ago. Mr. Geldhof seems to have unusual access to the Swiss banking establishment. He also helped many survivors restart their lives after the war.
Hm… things are heating up in IR$: Taxing Trails.
Assassins, A Swiss Connection and Money… Lots of It!
Now things get complicated. As Larry starts to put together the pieces, Deborah Gaines strikes again. When her sabotage of Larry’s car kills an innocent bystander, what follows is a crazy shootout in the streets of New York. Our taxman prevails and closes Ms. Gaines file, permanently!
Retrieving her laptop to scan her email, Larry finds out that the hit on him wasn’t payback. Moshe Geldhof ordered it! He is also in New York and will be waiting for the assassin at a posh restaurant with her payoff.
Never one to turn down a party, Larry chooses himself to go instead of the deceased professional killer.
While getting ready to confront Geldhof, Larry has another chat with Gloria Paradise. He says that he finds people with a lot of money fascinating. Especially billionaires. To get where they are, he argues, they all have deep dark secrets.
Our suave taxman swaggers into Geldhof’s dinner plans and lays his cards on the table. He knows Loewenstein paid Deborah Gaines as a favor to Geldhof. He even figures that Loewenstein had no clue what he was paying for. Never mind the fact that Geldhof put out a hit on Larry himself.
Things get even more interesting when Larry pushes Geldhof on why he had Luc Cretier killed. What did the Swiss banker find that made Geldhof give him $3 million for his silence?
And this is the point where everything in IR$: Taxing Trails blows up, twists and becomes more than just a simple tax investigation.
What did Cretier find that got him killed? Why is Geldhof so eager to get rid of Larry?
Get ready for more action, a tense care chase through NYC, seduction and mystery plus a trip to Switzerland –before IR$: Taxing Trails answers any of these questions.
The Art and Writing of IR$: Taxing Trails
Author Stephen Desberg is a rising star of Franco-Belgian graphic fiction and IR$: Taxing Trails is a good example why.
Larry B. Max is a real character. Not quiet James Bond. Not quite hardcore mercenary or action hero. And definitely not an accountant, though he’s a finance whiz.
I love his calm demeanor and ruthlessness, this is a man who sleeps with a dangerous assassin just to get her attention. Talk about guts!
But dramatics aside, Larry is a complicated man. He’s clearly not opposed to getting paid handsomely by the IRS for his services, judging by his lifestyle. Yet as cold and lavish as he is, Larry has a code.
He sincerely and truly believes that tax evasion is wrong. He hates murderers. He may even have a conscious… gasp!
We see the ‘start’ of his phone relationship with the seductive Gloria Paradise. We see Larry reach out and connect emotionally with a mysterious woman on an ‘erotic’ phone chat line, and they actually seem to click…
Desberg also doesn’t pull any punches regarding the plot of IR$: Taxing Trails. The issue of Swiss banks collaborating with the Nazis and denying Holocaust survivors and descendants access to their money is very, very controversial in Europe. It comes up every couple of years, causes much public debate and outrage and then fades.
Mind you this isn’t your typical World War 2 inspired story and it definitely doesn’t follow the scripts and stereotypes that such stories normally carry in the US.
I have to admit it was Bernard Vrancken illustrations that drew me to I.R.$ in the first place. His style is neat and clean in the ligne-claire tradition of Franco-Belgian graphic novels. I love his use of color, each frame is a miniature work of art in itself.
That’s also what threw me off at first. Some of the angles he uses during action sequences in IR$: Taxing Trails did not make sense to me at first. I had to re-read scenes in order to ‘get’ his flow and the fact that all the motion he draws his highly stylized.
This doesn’t take away from your reading pleasure but does take some getting used to.
His scenes are beautifully setup though. I often thought I was watching a big budget thriller series and forgot I was reading a graphic novel.
Also, and this is really petty, I really had to smile at his color choices for the skin of most Americans. All Americans of European decent are portrayed as tanned.
This is a very Western European view of Americans and took me back to my own childhood images of what Americans are like. So plus points for that!
IR$: Taxing Trails is a [email protected]$$ debut for America’s toughest, and most stylish, taxman!
If you like thrillers, international conspiracies and lush living this is a must read graphic novel for you.
It’s a little bit like the movie The Accountant with Ben Affleck, minus the autism and working for the bad guys parts.
Also its kind wired, funny and intriguing to see someone working for the much hated IRS save the day. This is one taxman you definitely don’t want to get audited by.
Once again, shout out to Cinebook from the UK for making this Franco-Belgian gem available to English speaking graphic novel lovers!
Happy Reading Folks!