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Book Review < Back

Murder Mysteries

Credits: Written by Neil Gaiman and Illustrated by P. Craig Russell
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Commentary

In How To Write A Mystery, Larry Beinhart defines a cozy as a whodunit that "takes place in a single world, ... inhabited by a limited number of people of relatively narrow social range." The traditional cozy or fair play mystery is further delineated as one in which "the author presents the same clues both to the reader and to the fictional detective." By these criteria MURDER MYSTERIES is a traditional cozy with a twist of location. Instead of the English countryside, we dash about gathering clues in the Silver City (which is not, incidentally, a mining town in Nevada, but the mythical home of the Angels: Heaven, before there was such a thing as Hell). Instead of Miss Marple, our detective is Raguel, The Vengeance of God. Ever tried withholding evidence from the Vengeance of God? ...And you thought Mike Hammer was a tough guy.

Like Harlequin Valentine, MURDER MYSTERIES first saw life as a straight prose short story (in this case from the collection Smoke and Mirrors and comes to comics as an adaptation. It works beautifully for the most part. P. Craig Russell's illustration is not just lovely, but smart. In other words, he knows what not to draw.

Did I lose you? Close your eyes and try to imagine Heaven. Now open them and draw it. See? Every line defines, and therefore limits, what your mind sees as infinite beauty. Russell's solution is to keep those lines to a minimum, to suggest rather than detail.

My only regret is that the framing device - the contemporary tale of an Englishman on an extended layover in Los Angeles - loses some of its subtlety when told in pictures. Here's a hint: the clue is in the title, MURDER MYSTERIES. I'd elaborate, but I don't want to ruin your fun.

-- Kelly Sue DeConnick

 
Kelly Sue DeConnick relocated from Brooklyn, New York to Kansas City, MO, where she lives with her husband and artbomb.net colleague, Matt Fraction. Kelly Sue writes the English adaptations of several manga titles published by Tokyopop and Viz. She can be found on the web at kellysue.com.

 


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