Wednesday, December 09, 2009

A Recommended Author

A Sinister Aura - Bret Herholz

And now for something completely different. If the autumn felt like a good time to be reading old detective novels set in simpler times, then the winter is definitely time for pulling the curtains closed, sticking on the fire and curling up in a big round chair, reading kids' books, ghost stories and comic books.

This is the first of Herholz's graphic novels I've read, though I've loved his Edward Gorey style illustrations since I first saw them (to the extent that I'm delighted that he has graciously agreed to do a cover for an upcoming Iris book).

It's the story of a strange suicide/murder in 19th century America and one potential, scandalous solution.

Herholz moves the story from its original 1889 setting to one about 30 years later, in order to make the apparently clairvoyant Miss Polly a little more modern while retaining the Crichton/Jeeves style manservant Handgraves (it's a lovely detail that these are the adventures of Polly and Handgraves, and not vice-versa as one might expect). It's a good idea, I think, as the drawing (which is particularly fabulous in those panels which feature what appear to be ghosts) lends itself particularly well to the post-Victorian period.

The mystery is intriguing, the writing taut and without a pound of waste and the illustration and lettering all top notch. Throw in an additional short story, a note from the author and a preview of Herholz's next work, and this comes highly recommended to anyone looking for something more than the latest Spider-Man.

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