Reviewer: Emma Coverdale
Publisher: Dark Horse Books
Writer: Brian Talbot
Artist: Brian Talbot
Genre: Graphic Novel (Hardcover)
Release Date: Available Now
I have to admit that I’m not a big fan of mysteries and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes books – although brilliant as they may be – never really appealed to me. That is why I approached Grandville with the same, well, lack of enthusiasm only to find myself glad I was elected to review this hardcover graphic novel. You see, Grandville is a different kind of mystery with a different kind of detective and thus making this something of a unique reading experience even for those who aren’t fans of mysteries.
Set in an alternate retro-futuristic 1900s Europe where all the inhabitants are of the furry variety and humans are a race seen as inferior animal-servants, a diplomat escapes Paris, France and heads over to England where – hours later – he is discovered dead with what seems like a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. It is Detective-Inspector Lebrock, who happens to be a big and strapping badger, who thinks that the otter didn’t commit suicide but was murdered.
Along with his assistant, a rat named Detective Ratzi, the pair head off to Paris that has been ripped apart by many politically charged confrontations between the citizens and the government. The city is also booming with new technology as well but none of this interests Lebrock who takes to the case in an old-fashioned way … knocking on doors and talking to anyone who might be connected to the deceased. In this case, Lebrock and Ratzi find themselves in a cabaret when Lebrock meets an attractive Badger named Sarah Blairow.
Of course, they also run into trouble immediately after that, taking on armed thugs and agents who want the two English detectives dead. Fortunately, Lebrock isn’t just a brilliant detective but he is also more than capable of busting some heads in and does so several times in the graphic novel. As they chase the few leads they manage to dig up, the pair find out that there’s something bigger at play with suspects that might be connected in ways that Lebrock and Ratzi haven’t anticipated.
On the meantime, the enemy has send their agents to look for the two foreigners that learned the possible identities of those involved in the murder. In one of the best moments in the story, Lebrock manages to take down a room filled with enemy agents that range from dogs to a rhino. The result of the battle ends in tragedy as Lebrock exacts his revenge on those responsible in a climactic race to stop the culprits plans.
I won’t say more about the story seeing as every twist and turn leads to the truth behind who killed the otter diplomat and what they plan to do and who it really involves. Brian Talbot is able to weave a tale that is every bit as suspenseful as any crime or mystery novel and does so true to the time period despite the interesting talking humanoid animal characters twist or the fact that this world is filled with robots and other technological gizmos.
To top it all off, the characters are even interesting; although Lebrock isn’t an amazing character he is a good central character. He’s not just a muscle-bound hero who relies on his brawn but he is also delightfully brilliant when it comes to deductive reasoning. He’s the kind of man who travels with his dumbbells and demands a hearty English breakfast. Lebrock might not be Sherlock Holmes but he’s likeable enough that we actually care about him.
Grandville is certainly a unique mystery with plenty of action and wonderfully original twist that keeps the story quite interesting even for the more casual mystery reader. Lebrock is actually the type of character that we wouldn’t mind seeing again so here’s hoping that Brian Talbot will bring us another mystery in the future. Until then, Grandville is a mystery worth unraveling.
COMIC REVOLUTION RATING BREAKDOWN
The death of a diplomat begins an investigation that will lead Detective-Inspector Lebrock and his assistant, Detective Ratzi, to Paris, France where they discover that there’s more to the case than meets the eye. As the pair digs deeper into the death, a great mystery begins to unravel before them and there will be blood.
Talbot’s art is colorful and nicely detailed so all the characters really do stand out and the retro/futuristic setting is a nice touch.
An intriguing and different kind of mystery story, Grandville takes the thriller genre to unique new heights that make this a graphic novel that should be on the top of your list if you’re interested in the genre. That said, Detective-Inspector Lebrock isn’t a bigger-than-life figure but he is a likeable and brilliant chap that makes this graphic novel one of those rare mysteries worth a good look.