Fresh Meat: <i>Tunnel Vision</i> by Aric Davis Fresh Meat: Tunnel Vision by Aric Davis Neliza Drew Some mysteries are better left unsolved... FM: <i>Riders on the Storm</i> by Ed Gorman FM: Riders on the Storm by Ed Gorman Terrie Farley Moran A brutal murder of a Vietnam War protestor sends Sam to work. Fresh Meat: <i>The Perfect Witness</i> by Iris Johansen Fresh Meat: The Perfect Witness by Iris Johansen John Jacobson Seeing people's darkest memories has made her a target... Fresh Meat: <i>The Ploughmen</i> by Kim Zupan Fresh Meat: The Ploughmen by Kim Zupan Jenny Maloney An old man who's killed dozens meets a young deputy who hasn't saved one...
From The Blog
October 1, 2014
Hello, October: Crime Writers in the Cemetery
Hilary Davidson
September 30, 2014
Coming (Sort of) Soon: Tommy and Tuppence
Leslie Gilbert Elman
September 29, 2014
K.I.T.T. Has Not Become the Knight Industries Tween TruLuv
Crime HQ
September 26, 2014
Checking into The Knick 1.07: “Get the Rope”
Joe Brosnan
September 26, 2014
J.K. Rowling and the Brush with Fame
G.M. Malliet
Showing posts by: Doreen Sheridan click to see Doreen Sheridan's profile
Sat
Sep 20 2014 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: The Haunting Ballad by Michael Nethercott

The Haunting Ballad by Michael Nethercott is the second supernatural mystery featuring the mismatched crime-solving duo of O'Nelligan and Plunkett (available September 30, 2014).

The second book in the O’Nelligan and Plunkett series is another well-crafted meditation on love (this time primarily romantic) and tragedy wrapped in a period murder mystery. Set in 1950s Connecticut and New York, we follow the somewhat hapless private investigator Lee Plunkett as he and his fiancee of three years explore, with varying degrees of interest, the bohemian scene of Greenwich Village. At a club named Mercutio, an uncomfortable Plunkett and a more enthusiastic Audrey, along with two of her friends, watch the act of a handsome young folk singer named Byron Spires:

Then, to seal the deal, he slid into a mournful ballad, which I have to admit was downright haunting. Phrases like the wind that stirred our wounded dreams and she was the girl I should have loved were I not so young and lost seemed to linger after Spires had strummed his last chord. His set finished, he took in the blend of applause and finger-snapping (a modern form of admiration, I was told), muttered a thanks, and sauntered off the stage.

Scanning the crowd, he seemed to take fast notice of our table, stocked as it was with its trio of comely females. My manly presence was seemingly no deterrent, and Byron Spires, guitar slung to his side, made his way to us directly. Three pairs of eyes widened at his approach. Mine—the only non-female set—narrowed behind the twin shields of my spectacles. Right off the bat, I wasn’t sure that I really loved this guy.

[His feelings might be founded...]

Fri
Sep 5 2014 2:00pm

Fresh Meat: The Fuse Vol. 1: The Russia Shift by Antony Johnston and Justin Greenwood

The Fuse Vol. 1: The Russia Shift, written by Antony Johnston and illustrated by Justin Greenwood is a sci-fi procedural graphic novel, featuring two cops forced to patrol an energy platform orbiting Earth (available September 9, 2014).

One of my favorite, if definitely niche, entertainment genres is the sci-fi police procedural. I was saddened by the recent cancellation of the TV show Almost Human—featuring a grouchy cop and his quirky android sidekick, for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure—so I'm extra pleased that a book as good as The Fuse has emerged to fill that void for me.

Set on Midway, a city that orbits 22,000 miles above the surface of the Earth, The Fuse Vol I: The Russia Shift follows a veteran cop, Klem Rystovich, and her fresh from planetside partner, Ralph Dietrich, as they investigate the murders of two “cablers.” Midway’s equivalent of the homeless, cablers choose to abandon society and live on the fringes, within the very skeleton of the orbiting city itself. Originally designed solely as a power station known as The Fuse, Midway was built up around the core generator by a group that included Klem’s cabler friend, Pyotr, whom the detectives run into during the course of their investigations:

Dietrich: Will anyone ever tell me what “FGU” means?

Klem: Don't—

Pyotr: First Guys Up. You didn't know?

Klem: He's fresh. I was gonna string him along a while longer. Go on, tell him.

Pyotr: Thousands of engineers built this place. We all lived up here for six months at a time, doing tours. But only a few hundred of us decided we preferred it up here to down on earth. When the Fuse was finished, everyone else went home. But to us, this was home. We started building. We were the First Guys Up. People like me and Klem built this place. We know every girder, ever rivet, every corridor and exhaust well. Course, most of us didn't figure we'd end up sleeping in them, too.

[There's even more world building!]

Sun
Jul 20 2014 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: Rocket Girl Vol. 1: Times Squared" by Amy Reeder & Brandon Montclare

Rocket Girl Volume 1: Times Square by Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder is a time-traveling comic series where a girl must travel back to 1986 NYC to save the future from an evil corporation (available July 22, 2014).

Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder present us with a neat new twist on time-travel: a teenage cop from the New York City of 2013 travels back in time to 1986 to stop the invention of an engine that will allow a megacorporation to establish its near-totalitarian and wholly criminal grip on the city.

Dayoung Johansson works for the New York Teen Police Department, a body established due to people over the age of 20 no longer being considered trustworthy. When she and her partner, LeShawn O’Patrick, stumble across information proving that Quintum Mechanics has been manipulating the past in order to control the present, she determines to travel to the one point in time that begins Quintum’s domination and stop it in its tracks.

[Sounds simple enough...]

Thu
Jul 10 2014 2:30pm

Fresh Meat: The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang

The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and illustrated by Sonny Liew is a revived  comic series adapted from a 1940s series about the Green Turtle, the first Asian American superhero (available July 14, 2014).

In 1944, an obscure comic book artist named Chu Hing was asked to write and draw an Asian-based cartoon feature for the equally obscure publisher, Rural Home. He created a hero named the Green Turtle, whose exploits would span five whole issues before cancellation. The entire enterprise might have been consigned to a footnote in comic book history, if Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew hadn’t come across the Green Turtle and decided to expand upon what Chu Hing had begun, extrapolating from the Golden Age of comics (and its inherent limitations) to create a fully-fleshed, touching, and incredibly funny superhero comic that, while set in the same mid-century milieu as the original, feels both fresh and timeless.

The story begins in a turbulent China, following the collapse of imperial rule. The four guardian spirits of China—Dragon, Phoenix, Tiger and Tortoise—come to a council to decide the best way to ensure China’s, and their own, survival. While the others argue, Tortoise is silent. The next day, to the dismay of his fellows, Tortoise hops aboard a ship leaving the mainland. There he strikes a deal with a young drunk who, travelling to America, will become Hank Chu’s father and unwittingly bequeath the protection of Tortoise to his American-born son.

[It's a surprisingly smooth ride...]

Thu
Jul 3 2014 3:00pm

Fresh Meat: The Occultist Vol. II: At Death’s Door by Tim Seeley

The Occultist Volume 2: At Death's Door by Tim Seeley is a comic series centered on a young man who wields The Sword, an ancient book of spells that binds itself to him (available July 8, 2014).

The second story arc of the on-going series, The Occultist, veers away from the criminal mayhem of the first volume to explore in more depth the backgrounds of our main characters, as well as the occult responsibilities of our hero, Robert Bailey. Unwittingly earned when he was selected to be the living embodiment of the ancient artifact known as The Sword, these powers allow him to patrol the line between the living and the dead. As this volume opens, Rob and the police officer who knows his secret, Detective Anna Melendez, are investigating the disappearances of local pets and small livestock. Their successful closure of the case causes a moment of closeness, but when Rob tries to express his romantic interest, Anna abruptly changes the subject, sending him off to meet his mentor, James Charles, instead.

[But he won't find him...]

Fri
Jun 20 2014 11:00am

Fresh Meat: The Victories Vol. 3: Posthuman by Michael Avon Oeming

The Victories Volume 3: Posthuman by Michael Avon Oeming is a comic series where superheroes have been locked up in internment camps, unable to save the world (available June 24, 2014).

Michael Avon Oeming’s The Victories is taking a page out of the A Game Of Thrones playbook, and I don’t know how I feel about that. Without giving away any plot points, allegiances in The Victories change and characters (that I love!) die, and while it all makes sense story-wise, my fangirl heart feels entirely too bruised by the losses.

Fortunately, it’s easy to shunt aside my personal issues to lose myself in the deepening plot. When we last left our titular superhero group, the majority had voluntarily accepted internment in government camps in order to prevent further bloodshed. Champions, as superpowered heroes are called in this version of the near-future, are thought to be the vector for a plague that has descended upon mankind, so most accept government quarantine as a good thing…until it soon becomes clear that the plague was just a ruse to neutralize them. A powerful, secretive cabal has seized the reins of power, and wants both the good guys and civilians out of the way while they implement the final steps of their evil master plan.

[On second thought, maybe we shouldn't have locked up our only hope...]

Fri
Jun 13 2014 1:00pm

Fresh Meat: Protectors, Inc.: Volume 1 by J. Michael Straczynski

Protectors Inc. Volume 1 by J. Michael Straczynski, Gordon Purcell, and Michael Atiyeh is a superhero comic series where superheroes are rented out to the highest bidder (available June 17, 2014).

In this superhero comic title from one of the masters of the field, superpowers first manifested in the skies over 1944 Normandy, changing forever the life of one average soldier. Taking on the moniker The Patriot, he would turn the tide for the Allied nations in World War II, even as he carefully cultivated his anonymity. Decades later, he would put down the mantle, never explaining why, and disappear into the masses.

But he wasn’t the only one gifted with, seemingly, the abilities of flight, super-strength, super-speed, invulnerability and agelessness. Other individuals soon stepped forward with similar powers, though slightly different motivations:

[The Patriot] seemed like a regular guy who got lucky. He just wanted to be a good soldier. Never let it go to his head. Never put on airs, never took a dime in endorsements… not like the bunch who came after him. See, whatever entered the world that day, it wasn’t done doing what it came to do. After that, guys with powers started popping up all over the United States, as if the power that hit him in France followed him home. Not only were all the new powers Americans, most of ‘em were rich Americans, a fact the government used during the Cold War to argue the superiority of capitalism over communism. They said the power that entered the world was drawn to people who would know how to use it for freedom and the good of mankind. Now there’s fifty of ‘em. All good guys, no bad guys, if you believe the press. They called themselves Protectors… a name that got incorporated in the 1950s when there got to be a bunch of ‘em. The company took over their public appearances, finances, bookings, designed their costumes, helped ‘em pick hero names, the whole catastrophe.

[Brace yourself, supervillians are coming...]

Thu
Jun 5 2014 11:00am

Fresh Meat: The Adventures of Apocalypse Al by J. Michael Straczynski

The Adventures of Apocalypse Al by J. Michael Straczynski, Sid Kotian, and Bill Farmer is a comic noir series laced with comedy about a woman tasked with preventing the end of the world (available June 10, 2014).

I love noir and have a soft spot, if it doesn’t seem too much of a contradiction, for comedic noir. In the best of comedy noir, humor leavens the bleak brutality and frank sexuality of its parent genre, bringing warmth to stories that otherwise paint humanity in the basest shades of grey. Interestingly, most of the comedy noir out there today introduces supernatural elements to the mix, with The Adventures of Apocalypse Al being one of the newest entries to this field.

Apocalypse Al is the nickname given to Allison Carter, the latest in a long line of investigators into the supernatural whose remit is preventing the end of the world. Based in Los Angeles, she lives a busy and fairly lucrative, if somewhat lonely, life. She’s fresh off closing her latest case when she’s contacted by the mysterious group known as The Committee. They inform her that some amateur has managed to get his hands on he Book of Keys and is intent on using it to permanently open the doorway to hell, thereby unleashing the apocalypse. Her investigations into the matter bring her to the attention of Ultimate Darkness, a higher-up in the demonic world who, in good noir form, unexpectedly proves to be an ally instead of an enemy.

[One woman stands between us and the end of the world...]

Thu
May 29 2014 11:00am

Fresh Meat: Archer Coe and the Thousand Natural Shocks by Jamie S. Rich and Dan Christensen

Archer Coe and the Thousand Natural Shocks by Jamie S. Rich and Dan Christensen is the debut comic series about a successful stage performer who learns more than he expected to after taking on a wealthy client (available June 11, 2014).

In this decidedly noir take on the life of a stage hypnotist, Archer Coe, a.k.a The Mind’s Arrow, is a performer with a successful act that has taken him from back alleys to seedy nightclubs to far, far more respectable venues. One of his specialties is enabling willing volunteers to overcome their vices, such as in this scene, where a man in the audience named Delmar asks Archer to help him quit smoking cigarettes. Archer removes the pack of cigarettes from Delmar’s shirt pockets and intones:

Archer: It appears you travel with your vice wherever you go. The greatest boon to religion was sin being made portable. What can be brought... can also be removed. Are you ready to remove that addiction, Delmar?

Delmar: I- I- I—

Archer: This requires you to be present, Delmar. I asked if you're ready to remove the addiction. I didn't say I was doing it. Do you believe you can conquer this, Delmar? DO YOU?

[But how does he do it...]

Fri
May 23 2014 12:00pm

Murder Mysteries by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell

Murder Mysteries by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by P. Craig Russell is a graphic novel adapted from Gaiman's short story by the same name about the very first murder ever.

Can I tell you a secret? A guilty secret, if you will, given the kinds of books I like to read, foremost among them being murder mysteries and fantasy novels (and, of course, graphic novels of any stripe.)

I don’t particularly care for Neil Gaiman.

I have to qualify that, though, with the fact that I don’t particularly like his fantasy work. Admittedly, that’s the work for which he’s most renowned, and for which he’s earned numerous Hugos, a Newbery and a Carnegie, as well as the slavish devotion of legions of fans. Alas, most of his stuff with The Endless and his prose novels have all elicited a very firm “meh” from me. But when he ventures into crime territory (as with the awesome concept of the Serial Convention, as well as his graphic novel, Violent Cases, and his brilliant Sherlock Holmes pastiche, A Study In Emerald,) he holds my interest much better than he does with the books and ideas for which he’s more lauded.

When the graphic novel adaptation of his story, Murder Mysteries, first came out in 2002, I read through it quickly, judged it adequate, and moved on. But with the upcoming reissue, I thought I’d give it another whirl and see whether my opinion of it has changed any. Time and distance, I have found, can often drastically change what I previously thought and felt.

[Some things take time...]

Wed
May 21 2014 11:30am

Fresh Meat: Mind MGMT Volume 3: The Home Maker by Matt Kindt

Mind MGMT Volume 3: The Home Maker by Matt Kindt continues the espionage comic series about a secret government psychic spy program (available June 3, 2014).

Meru and Bill have been reunited in the latest collection of Mind MGMT comics, as they run from both Henry Lyme and The Eraser. Unwilling to be caught up in the battle over the wreckage of the government agency once known as Mind Management, Meru and Bill are searching for answers on their own. Unfortunately, neither Lyme nor The Eraser is willing to let them go, and are ready to wake up all manner of sleeper agents in the fight to recruit them to their sides.

[Origin stories are the theme here...]

Sat
May 10 2014 12:15pm

Fresh Meat: Sidekick by J. Michael Straczynski and Tom Mandrake

Sidekick by J. Michael Straczynski and Tom Madrake is a gritty, blunt comic book portrayal of a superhero sidekick who struggles to succeed on his own after his partner is killed (available May 13, 2014).

Sidekicks have been a staple of the crime genre since Dr. John Watson first started chronicling the adventures of his companion Sherlock Holmes, if not sooner. Often filling the role of muscle, amanuensis or, from the authorial perspective, The Character That Provides Exposition, the sidekick is usually considered indispensable to the hero… but how about the other way around? Watson did alright for himself after Holmes’ reported demise, but he was a grown man with a career and a family when Holmes plunged into Reichenbach Falls. What happens to the (often much younger) sidekick of a superhero when cut adrift of his or her mentor?

J. Michael Straczynski and Tom Mandrake’s Sidekick explores the life of Barry Chase, a.k.a. Flyboy, in the aftermath of the assassination of The Red Cowl, guardian to both him and Sol City. Taken in as a teenager after the death of his parents triggered his superpowers, Flyboy spent years basking in the reflected glory of The Red Cowl, all too willing to just tag along and help out where directed.

[It's was just too easy for Flyboy to be a follower...]

Thu
May 1 2014 11:30am

Fresh Meat: Blonde Ops by Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman

Blonde Ops by Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman is a Young Adult, tech-savvy romp through Rome where Bec must juggle her job at a fashion magazine, a potential threat to the First Lady, and of course, boys (available May 6, 2014).

Teenage hacker Bec Jackson has been kicked out of her latest boarding school after yet another poor personal decision. She kinda hopes this means her wealthy parents will now have run out of academic options and have to spend time with her (for a change,) but she’s in for a rude surprise when she finds herself whisked off to Rome instead, to intern for her mother’s old college pal who happens to be editor of the fashion magazine Edge.

Once there, Bec has to deal with being a fish out of water, but at least Mom’s friend, Parker, seems willing to nurture Bec and help her adjust. Just as the Edge staff are gearing up for a high-security photo shoot with U. S. First Lady Theresa Jennings, Parker, a dead ringer for their VIP guest, is involved in a near-fatal traffic accident. Enter Candace Worthington, model, fashion personality and interim Edge editor, who immediately puts Bec on a much shorter leash. When it soon becomes clear that the First Lady is under threat, headstrong Bec gets involved both in protecting her and in finding out what really happened to Parker, even as she juggles the interest of two dashing boys who may not be everything they seem.

[Bec's life just got a whole lot more complicated...]

Fri
Apr 25 2014 10:00am

Fresh Meat: Sex Criminals Volume I: One Weird Trick by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky

Sex Criminals Volume 1: One Weird Trick by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky is a graphic novel about Suzie and Jon, a couple who both share the same gift: time stops when they have sex (available April 29, 2014).

With a title like Sex Criminals, you’d expect a book that’s either lurid or salacious. Such is the genius of Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky though that their work here, while definitely intended for mature audiences, never veers towards the exploitative. Instead, they’ve created a graphic novel that’s both thoughtful and funny, that doesn’t shy away from honest discussions of sex and grieving and health while still being an awesome time-travel romp and crime caper.

But let’s allow the writing to speak for itself, with this excerpt from the opening pages that sets the tone for the entire book:

Let me start at the start. This guy killed my dad. It's Tuesday, October 26th, 1997, and just a second ago, this guy killed my father and shot two other people. The stock market crashed yesterday, apparently, and he lost everything. Except for a gun and his cocaine psychosis. He showed up here, at the world headquarters of BankCorp, looking to settle some scores.

My dad was an accountant. Didn't even know the guy. I'd like to think Dad died heroically. Maybe saving somebody. Maybe he jumped between the guy and a pregnant lady or something. Anything to keep it from being so random.

I swear the sex and the jokes are coming. Hang on.

[Seriously, go inside. It's full of sex and jokes in there...]

Sat
Mar 15 2014 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: Kilmoon by Lisa Alber

Kilmoon by Lisa Alber follows a Californian who ventures back to Ireland to meet her father, but her arrival coincides with a string of violent murders, making her both a suspect and a victim (available March 18, 2014).

The small town of Lisfenora, Ireland, cheats poverty by virtue of its annual matchmaking festival, featuring the enigmatic man known as Liam the Lion. The festival has seen the town through the years where the rest of the nation’s economy went bust, and so Liam’s skills have made him an object of hero-worship to the locals and to those whose lives have been bettered for his choices, as well as an object of curiosity for everyone else.

One of the latter, in 1975, is a fledgling American journalist named Julia Chase, who gets too close to her subject before fleeing back to California and giving birth to a child she raises with a husband, Andrew, who becomes increasingly embittered as the years progress. Nearly thirty years later, Julia’s daughter arrives in Lisfenora to unravel the mystery of her parentage, which Lisa Alber explores with a sensitivity not often seen in your average crime novel:

Merrit’s life, her mom’s life – how different they would have been if Liam had fought for her mom. But he hadn’t, and Merrit had to know why. Since childhood, she’d yearned to fill the void where the unsaid and the murky festered beneath her mom’s smile. Merrit couldn’t recall when she’d realized that her mom was a woman who hid her unhappiness well most of the time. Nor could Merrit recapture the moment she first noticed that Andrew treated her like a houseguest who’d overstayed her welcome, only that it hadn’t mattered until after her mom’s death. All she knew was that the answers lingered along Lisfenora’s cobbled lanes, along which Liam had walked arm-in-arm with her mom.

[The Emerald Isle is about to run red...]

Sat
Mar 8 2014 12:59pm

Fresh Meat: Bad Machinery Vol II: The Case Of The Good Boy by John Allison

Bad Machinery: The Case Of The Good Boy by John Allison is the second volume in the web comic series about the middle grade sleuths of Griswald's Grammar School in Tackleford, England (available March 12, 2014).

I have a huge weakness for John Allison’s Bad Machinery series. While I love most of his work, there’s something about his tales of two rival teams of young adolescent sleuths that makes them very dear to my heart. The girls’ team consists of the responsible, if poor, Shauna; her best friend, the irrepressible Lottie, and Mildred, the rebellious product of an extremely left-wing upbringing. On the boys’ team, you have quiet, handsome Jack; sharp-eyed and sharp-tongued policeman’s son, Linton, and sensible, resourceful Sonny, who is also Mildred’s cousin. Jack and Shauna are sort of dating, but careful to keep it quiet, partly in case anyone on their teams should take umbrage, and partly to avoid teasing from their wider social circles. Goodness knows, Sonny gets enough teasing just as a result of being related to Mildred:

Linton: Are you coming down to the park tonight?

Sonny: No, I'm busy.

Linton: Is it Naturecraft Folk? Leaf touching? A big night of leaf touching.

Sonny: We don't touch leaves.

Linton: NOT EVER?

Sonny: My cousin is coming round. I have to be in.

Linton: A play date! A play date with MILDRED! A tea party with hair brushing and teddies and pony stories!

Sonny (deadpan): Sometimes the pony stories are so good that we don't even get round to the hair brushing.

Jack: Are we going to solve a mystery soon? Other than the mystery of why Linton isn't going to have any friends soon. Because that's not really a mystery.

[Let's go to the carnival...]

Sat
Mar 1 2014 2:00pm

Fresh Meat: Zero Volume 1: An Emergency by Ales Kot

Zero Volume 1: An Emergency by Ales Kot and illustrated by various artists is a collection of five comics that follow Edward Zero, the top spy for The Agency who learns he's been working for the wrong side (available March 4, 2014). 

When I think of spy thrillers, the first thing that comes to mind is James Bond. Lots of slam-bang action, a good helping of espionage and double-crosses, secretive organizations at cross-purposes seeking to outwit one another through the maneuvering of their agents – all these were popularized by the books and subsequent movies and have become hallmarks of the genre. The first volume of the comic book series Zero has all these elements in spades, but also brings to the forefront another aspect of classic spy novels that is often overlooked, despite being of critical importance to the driving plot: technology so advanced that it reads like science fiction. Think of Q before his gadgets were rendered “realistic” in the last few Bond movies, or of the evil plans in Moonraker and Diamonds Are Forever.

[The name's Zero, Edward Zero...]

Fri
Feb 21 2014 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: Hammer of Angels by G.T. Almasi

Hammer of Angels is a the second novel in the Shadowstorm series by G.T. Almasi that takes place in an alternative realty where Germany won WWII and super-spies fight a secret Cold War (available February 25, 2014).

Alix “Scarlet” Nicois back in this slam-bang sequel to the thrilling alternate history Blades of Winter. She’s more determined than ever to discover what really happened to her super-spy father and whose footsteps she’s followed by joining Extreme Operations (ExOps) as a physically augmented secret agent, or Level, as they’re known. The fallout from the events of the first book has America’s sole superpower ally, Greater Germany, threatening to leave their alliance for the friendlier embrace of either Russia or China. In an act of supreme realpolitik, ExOps decides that the best way to head this off is to remind Germany why it needs America – by secretly fomenting a slave rebellion in Greater Germany that only the Americans will be able to help them recover from.

[A Cold War-era slave rebellion? You know you want to read more...]

Tue
Feb 11 2014 4:15pm

Fresh Meat: Sherlock Holmes And The Vampires Of London by Sylvain Cordurie and Laci

Sherlock Holmes and the Vampires of London is a graphic novel written by Sylvain Cordurie and illustrated by Laci about The Great Detective's post-Reichenbach return to London to face a plague of vampires (available February 18, 2014).

With the recent federal ruling determining that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes oeuvre (barring details only available in the last 10 stories) is in the public domain in the United States, diehard fans here can expect an explosion in the number of homages and pastiches in honor of the great detective. One such is this graphic novel by Sylvain Cordurie and Laci, translated from the original French. Mr Cordurie has taken two Victorian favorites, Sherlock Holmes and vampires, and not unsuccessfully synthesized them into a coherent, entertaining whole. In large part, his ability to pull this off is due to the fact that he keeps everything strictly Victorian, and strictly in line with both what Doyle as well as what his contemporaries in horror might have written on the subject.

Set very shortly after Holmes’ reported demise at the Reichenbach Falls, the main form the narrative takes is of a letter to his long-time companion, Dr John Watson. Apologizing first for the deception of the faked death, he explains that it was undertaken in order to protect Watson from Moriarty’s vengeful underlings (though he does confide in his brother that Watson is a terrible actor who would never be able to pretend that Holmes was still dead if he were to learn otherwise). Holmes plans to take time to travel, but finds himself waylaid in Paris by a pack of vampires who, ironically, insist on returning him to London. They manage this by use of a lovely decoy, Joyce, who quickly becomes his monstrous guardian and confidante:

Holmes: Since we are confiding in each other, there is a point that I should like to bring up with you, if you will allow me. You are intelligent. You cannot ignore the fact that it was only to trap me that they made you a vampire. Don't you feel hate towards those who have stolen your life?

Joyce: My life... if you only knew how bleak it was. By losing it, I gained eternity, a wider perception of the world, more intense sensations…

Holmes: And an unquenchable thirst that forces you to commit barbaric crimes. Doesn't that affect you?

Joyce: I don't feel remorse any longer. And, unlike you, the emptiness of my existence has given way to accomplishment... to a feeling of fullness. Am I, of us two, to be pitied more?

[Holmes will discover more horrors, of course...]

Thu
Jan 2 2014 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: The Wrong Quarry by Max Allan Collins

The Wrong Quarry by Max Allan CollinsThe Wrong Quarry by Max Allan Collins is a hard-boiled thriller about an assassin who hunts down other assassins (available January 7, 2014).

I love a good, formulaic mystery. Doesn’t really matter the sub-genre: be it cozy, police procedural or hard-boiled, as long as all the genre points are hit, I am as satisfied afterwards mentally as I would be physically by a plate piled high with comfort foods.

The Wrong Quarry by Max Allan Collins is one supremely satisfying example of a classic, twisty hard-boiled tale. Set in the 80s, the series follows the exploits of the assassin Quarry, who hunts down other assassins and offers their targets a deal: for a suitable fee, he’ll eliminate the killers hired to hunt them down. For a reasonable amount more, he’ll even go after the people who put out the contract in the first place. Pretty sweet deal for the usually oblivious target, and one not many turn down once they’ve been enlightened of the plot to end their lives.

Quarry’s latest job has him following the passive half of an assassination team to a small town in the midwest, where not even political maneuvering can assuage the grief of a prominent family over the disappearance of the youngest member of their clan, a beautiful teenager as well known for her promiscuity as for her artistic promise. The local dance teacher is the primary suspect for those who believe foul play was involved, but there’s no proof that the teenager didn’t just run away on her own… and now a team of hitmen has seemingly been hired to eradicate the dance teacher in as drawn-out a manner as possible.

[Drawn-out can be good...]