Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Treasury of Victorian Murder

I don’t buy many graphic novels for myself, I’m afraid; I usually get through them courtesy of the library or as gifts from people.  I found this one irresistible, however; it was in the not inconsiderable second-hand graphic novels section of Page One, one of Albuquerque’s small but excellent group of independent book stores.  I have been a connoisseur of Victorian murder since at least 2003 and my first  Graphic Horror course, and indeed living in the UK has indulged my source of intrigue.  However, what also influenced me to buy this book was that it packed a lot of graphic novel for a very slim spine, and as my suitcase was already  stuffed with books, I could quite painlessly put it on my carry on and read it on the plane (which I did).

Despite the compendious title, Rick Geary’s compilation has only three accounts of murder, though his rogues’ gallery signals his other titles in this series such as Jack the Ripper, The Borden Tragedy, and The Mystery of Mary Rogers.  Geary’s beautifully sober and detailed line drawings seem perfect for his subject matter, invoking the crime detailing of Holmes with the florid bloodiness of Richard Altick, my first armchair Victorian practitioner of CSI.  Interestingly, the three accounts were ones with which I was not familiar; Dr. Pritchard of Glasgow’s sense of arrogance and disdain mirrors old foe Dr. Neil Cream, but Mrs. Pearcey’s 1890 double murder in Hampstead was rather unusual.  Certainly the 1873 unsolved case of the Ryan siblings is a fascinating anomaly which would no doubt make a very interesting play.

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