- Britten and Brϋlightly
- by Hannah Berry
- ISBN: 978-0-8050-8927-1
- Pages: quite a few - paperback
- Metropolitan Book/Henry Holt and Company, 2008 (first U.S. Edition 2009)
- Genre: Mystery (Graphic Novel)
This was only my second ever graphic novel, and it is a delightful book. For those who think graphic novels are just comics for not-quite-grown-ups (a group which would have included me until very recently), this book will come as a big surprise; it has great depth and complexity, and just oozes pathos.
The description on the cover says it all – “A gorgeously drawn, strikingly original graphic novel murder mystery”. Apart from which you just have to love a book that starts “As it did every morning with spiteful inevitability, the sun rose”.
The story is about Fernandez Britten, a private detective who has built a reputation uncovering the dark truths behind suspicious partners and broken relationships. It is a reputation and a role that brings him no comfort at all. Quite the contrary he yearns for the time when uncovering the truth will bring joy to people; but his nickname, the Heartbreaker, says it all. He finds himself in a mid-life crisis and deeply depressed.
He takes on a new case that is brought to him by a young woman. Her fiancée has died and the official verdict is suicide, but she is convinced that there is much more to it. Britten, with the help of his extremely unconventional partner, digs into the case and uncovers a sordid tale of dark family secrets, blackmail, revenge and murder. Finally he comes to realize that some truths are best left untold, but for some it is too late.
The story is convoluted and clever, and oh so black. In some ways it conjures up classic murder mystery writers, but this has a style all of its own. The mood is lifted just a touch by some marvelous wry humor, and the book is quite brilliantly illustrated.
It’s tough to believe that this is her first novel, and even harder to believe that she illustrated it herself. I’ve got to give this 4.5 stars. If you’ve never read a graphic novel and feel put off by them – you shouldn’t be. This would be a fabulous place to start.
Here is the cover for the UK version, and is available in both versions in Canada - to the right.
This review was written by John/JD and posted by Shellie. As always John will be addressing your comments.
I am going to add John as a participant in the Graphic Novel Challenge too, as a beginner (3 novels.) He's loving them. Just before I posted this he said “it’s a really good book” and laughed.
Have a great weekend everyone and thanks for reading Layers of Thought!