"A Dame to Kill For," which is Book 2 in Frank Miller's "Sin City" series, is now going to be known as the only one of the first four books that was not part of the "Sin City" movie. Given the options it was a smart move because this one tells the story of what happened that made Dwight get a new mug and "The Big Fat Kill" is the better tale of the two if you are going to do one Dwight story and if you want to do a story in two parts "That Yellow Bastard" is a better choice as well.
Dwight is reduced by circumstances, most notably an attempt to stay sober, to spying on men cheating on their wives with prostitutes so that he can take their photographs. What he desperately wants is one clear chance to wipe the slate clean and get his life together. Four years earlier Ava left Dwight for another man and he knows that seeing her again is nothing but bad news above the fold even without the banner headline. He should just kill her or at least walk away, but when she begs him for help none of the cold harsh realities of what she has done and what sort of woman she really is matters to Dwight. He is going to need all the help he can get to deal with Ava, because being sober is not making Dwight smart enough to avoid making one big mistake.
In terms of the "Sin City" chronology, "A Dame to Kill For" comes before "The Hard Goodbye." We know because Marv is not only in the bar where Nancy is dancing as Dwight comes by for a visit, he helps his pal out when the hero of this story finds the man mountain named Manute. This ends up working against this story in a couple of ways. You had to agree that it is hard to think of Marv as just a sidekick given how strong of a character that he is, and the fact that Dwight cannot handle Manute makes him a lesser hero. After all, it is Marv who labels Ava with the titular appellation. I knew that he was going to get his act together in the end, given what happens in the next book, but for most of this one Dwight is getting beat up, thrown through a window, and shot a whole bunch of times. Clearly Miller is making a point about the healing power of a burning desire for revenge
Overall, the black & white artwork (or, I should say, white on black artwork) is less experimental in Book 2 and if anything looks like it was drawn with white ink on black paper rather than the other way around. For me the sequence that stands out is in Chapter 2 when Dwight heads to a bar to meet with Ava and all of the panels have smoke drifting through them, although some of Miller's panels where the blinds on the windows make for alternative parallel lines of light and darkness are interesting (there are others that are just overkill). For the most part Miller is laying out the story so that it looks more like a conventional comic book than Book 1, so there is not the sense of boldness from before. But then the story is less ambitious as Dwight comes across as just another guy who made the mistake of thinking with some other part of his anatomy besides what is between his ears.
In 1995 "A Dame to Kill For" won Will Eisner's Best Limited Series Award so it is not like it is a book to skip. If you make it to Book 2 in the "Sin City" series you should be in for the long haul and more of those hot nights, dry and windless, that are the kind that make people do sweaty, secret things.