Grandville Mon Amour by Bryan Talbot

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Grandville Mon Amour by Bryan Talbot

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Category: Graphic Novels
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A return to the world of the badger detective - or is that detective badger? - with his nemesis fresh out the cage.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 104 Date: December 2010
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
ISBN: 978-0224090001

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The first book in this series didn't end particularly well for DI LeBrock, the badger who works for Scotland Yard. At least the main problem, 'Mad Dog' Mastock, was sentenced to the guillotine. But in the prologue here he bursts out of his quandary, and once more causes problems for LeBrock - this time by slaughtering some Parisian prostitutes. Are they linked? What might their story be? And is there a darker part of the past yet to come out of some secretive hiding place, and cause even more danger and peril?

The fact we get a prologue here, then the initial title page, and many of the end credits and copyrights etc at the back, suggest this book is cinematic. The film version would be spectacular, as it is on paper. Whether Bryan Talbot puts two hundred words on his page, or none whatsoever, there is little difference in how long you take to read them all, for the level of fine artistry and detail is evident throughout. There are great illustrations here - dramatic poses, brilliant kinetic scenes conveyed superbly with a charming mix of hard line and realistic colouring, and great use of surprise.

We even get a loving scene of LeBrock in bed with an amour. Which brings me on to the problem I have with this series. A man who is as erudite as Talbot, however fine a draughtsman and visual storyteller he may be, does seem somewhat wasted on doing a crime story peopled by animals. Sure this is no ordinary crime novel - set in an alternative history steampunk Victorian world, where Anglo-French relationships have been made topsy-turvy - but I get the sustained sense - as before - this is a joke I don't fully get. Sure there is a clever use of the names of characters - Mastock for the gruff dog, for example - and animal type suiting character type - a Churchill nodding dog for a sort of Churchillian PM, and the Madam as a zaftig hippo - but I'm not convinced such an anthropomorphic regalia is really justified. The image, then, of a character that is practically a badger's head on a human form, smooching on the bedsheets with a buxom female counterpart, is one of the most memorable, and for all the wrong reasons.

Still, this book - whether it concludes the Grandville cycle or not - is a welcome addition to the output of Talbot. The thriller here is great - proving yet again Talbot could have been a wordsmith alone if he hadn't turned out so great on the drawing board - and the pace, energy and darkness of the plotting are all exemplary. It's not really a standalone title (drop marks if coming here fresh), but those willing to return from the first book will definitely lap this up. I didn't find as much humour as before, or pointed relevances as in the 9/11 echo, but I did find a very satisfying read, and another delight for the eyes from Mr Talbot.

This is a rich book, from the luscious style to the embossed cover and beyond. Jonathan Cape have done Talbot proud - and myself, so I thank them for my review copy.

For a completely different sequential crime story, we enjoyed Dark Entries by Ian Rankin and Werther Dell'Edera.

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Buy Grandville Mon Amour by Bryan Talbot at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Grandville Mon Amour by Bryan Talbot at


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