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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Harker. The Book of Solomon. Roger Gibson & Vince Danks. Ariel Press (2009)

This is a hugely enjoyable and thoughtful crime story. Two people have been murdered and mutilated at locations near the British Museum. Detective Chief Inspector Harker and Detective Sargent Critchley are assigned as multiple homicide case experts. Jenny Griffin is the forensic pathologist on the case and the interactions between the three is one of the major pleasures of the comic. The mutilations suggest some sort of ritual and a local Satanic group that included the last victim is uncovered. The reveals are very nicely paced, the investigation is pursued with competence and intelligence. The conclusion is very satisfying, sharp, nasty and just the right touch of humour to set it off.
The story construction is first rate, the plot has been properly thought out and is neatly obscured by an enjoyable layer of red herring. The creators do not cheat to get to a conclusion, it emerges cleanly and naturally from the story and gains considerable fore by doing so. The cast are well developed, they have clear and engaging personalities, the relationship between DCI Harker and DS Critchley rings true. Harker himself is an effective mixture of competence and mild diffidence, he is commanding when required, smart enough to be very worried when he should be.
The black and white art is very appealing, the cast are all sharply individual, the physical details of each location are nicely presented, particularly the exterior scenes in the city. There is a strong sense of context for the action, the cityscapes swirl with life and activity. Smart story and lovely art combine to create a very enjoyable comic, well worth reading.

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